She's so Cult

She’s so Cult: Jeanine Lobell

A pioneer within the beauty space, Neen‘s founder, Jeanine Lobell, has made sustainability her trademark — long before the world caught up with climate change. Now, with her stunning refillable silicone ‘palettes’ that minimise waste without compromise, expect amazing payoff, trend-led shades and… minimal commitment. You can try the trends without the huge expense or excess packaging, which makes the make up world a more creative, playful place.

We caught up with Jeanine about her background, what inspires her and which of Neen’s essentials will become your beauty go-tos…

Cult Beauty: Hi Jeanine, we are so thrilled to be bringing Neen to our make up-obsessed community. Can you talk us through what triggered you to launch another range?

Jeanine Lobell: After Stila and then working on the Kevyn Aucoin brand (along with a busy artistry career and, oh yeah, the five kids) I realized how much I love making: not just make up but great make up. Colour and formula development, sustainable packaging hunting, and building an inclusive community were what I still wanted to do!

CB: You’re renowned for creating playful, covetable colour that empowers everyone to get creative. What would you say is your prime motivator when it comes to developing new make up must-haves?

JL: Since the Stila days, we have made so much headway in ‘clean’ or what I prefer to call ‘conscious’ beauty. I think there’s a perception that conscious brands, especially make up, perform less well. I wanted to prove how untrue this is. I like to make products that perform at an artistry level but can be used by anyone who uses brushes or likes to use their fingers. There are so many stupid rules — around age or being ‘appropriate’ — that drives me nuts. We get so much love for our products from people when they first touch the Pretty Shady Pigments. They are all like, “Wait, what!!!??” It cracks me up its so fun to see such a dramatic reaction to products I’ve made.

CB: Sustainability was important to you loooong before the world woke up to the beauty industry’s environmental impact. What steps have you taken to make Neen as eco-conscious as it can be?

JL: Can you believe it! I was so ahead of the times! I didn’t even realise at the time. I made all those paper pallets that everyone uses today, then aluminium… I try to be authentically sustainable. Some of the materials we have used so far: our squishy refillable silicone compact (no magnet as this is not sustainable, so we use tape instead). It’s super easy to wash and reuse. Our Pretty Shiny highlighter is in an aluminium tube. The cap is plastic, but we hope to find something better soon.

We also have mascara in an OceanWorks plastic tube, which is made from plastic that has been reclaimed from the waterways. Searching for alternative materials has shown me that you can do better than what’s currently touted as sustainable. Of course, making these more sustainable choices comes at a higher cost. As a company, we choose to be less profitable and ask the consumer to participate in the work. So, “Yes! Please peel the tape and refill! Sure, the aluminum looks more ‘dinged up’ than a plastic version, but hey, this is important for the environment!” Together, if we change behaviors and expectations of convenience, we can make a difference.

CB: ‘Metta’ is your brand’s mantra — can you talk about its origins (and what it means)?

JL: Metta means loving-kindness. It’s something you can practice in meditation or even in your thoughts. In meditation, we send it to someone (by repeating specific phrases) who has helped us, someone who has harmed us to forgive them to not live with hurt and resentment, and we send it to ourselves to heal pain, self-loathing, and shame. A bit heavy, I know, but I want to send loving-kindness to everyone in our beauty community, so I put the phrases “May you be free. May you be happy. May you feel beautiful” in our compacts.

CB: The ‘customisable’ concept is incredible — if you had to build only one bespoke palette, which shades would be in it?

JL: Oh wow, that’s a good question for me! I hope I have done that with our trios! But if starting from scratch, I think everyone needs a matte black for a smokey eye or to use as a liner, a pop of shimmer like “Beam,” and a medium shade like “Metro” to use as a daytime smoke or crease colour.

CB: Is there a product you’re particularly proud of?

JL: Are you asking me to choose? Ack, yikes!!! I have to say our Pretty Shady Pressed Pigments. When I use them, I’m still like, “How the hell did I do that?”. The formula is so insane! With one swipe, they don’t budge or flake off. You don’t need a primer or anything.

CB: And when it comes to those finding their way in the beauty space — from aspiring MUAs to those hoping to build their own brand — is there one pearl of wisdom you wish you’d known earlier?

JL: Learn to listen to your instincts. It’s so easy to get caught up in what other people are doing or getting. Your story is your own. Listen deeply and be kind. It goes a long way.

CB: What’s next for Neen?

JL: We have so many products in development! More matte shades, a killer long-wear lip product, gloss in wands… Stay tuned! You’re going to be happy!

CB: And finally, on a more seismic scale, how do you anticipate the beauty space evolving in the coming months and years? Are there any key trends you’re predicting?

JL: We are finally seeing people let go of the heavy-painted foundation look. Skin is more natural looking, which means you need to focus on skin care and getting your application technique up to speed. We are still Barbie-obsessed! I think pink is sticking around. Blush draping is having a moment for Fall. As for the beauty space, I think people continue to become more and more interested in what’s in their products — the features and benefits of colour cosmetics will get stronger as well as the transparency around how and where the products are made.

Thank you so much Jeanine! Can’t wait to see what’s in store…


Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Cult Beauty’s Content Editor and a Cult Beauty OG, Verity loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm. A quintessential Libran, she’s a self-professed magpie for luxury ‘must-haves' and always pursuing the new and the niche — from the boujee-est skin care to cutting-edge tech. Balancing an urge to stop the clock with her desire to embrace the ageing process (and set a positive example for her daughter), Verity's a retinol obsessive and will gladly share her thoughts about the time-defying gadgets, masks and treatments worth the splurge...