At a time when more and more of us are past the point of simply questioning how ethical we are, and instead are willing to actively change our lifestyles, it was only a matter of minutes until beauty products were called back to the hot seat.
Despite the fact that animal testing for cosmetic purposes was banned across the European Union in 2009, with a sales ban fully implemented across the UK and EU in 2013, that’s not to say all of our cosmetics are totally cruelty-free…
According to PETA: “despite the testing and marketing bans, companies can sell products in the UK or EU even after they’ve been injected into guinea pigs, forced down rats’ throats, or applied to rabbits’ eyes in China or other countries as long as the tests aren’t used to demonstrate product safety for UK or EU standards. This means companies may continue to pay for tests on animals in China.”
With bad practices still on the market, and legal loopholes weighing down progress, the only action left is awareness and altering what and how we buy.
Cue ‘The Big Switch’ – a new collaborative shoot between makeup artist Pablo Rodriguez and photographer Jordan Rossi; two creatives taking on the cosmetics world through championing vegan and cruelty-free products.
‘The Big Switch’ pulls together products from across the industry and paints a bright, sustainable and ethical future on an all-inclusive canvas.
“It’s always the right time to question where our beauty products come from. But now Vegan-based beauty materials are definitely easier to find, there are a lot more available. Just go to any makeup brand website and search “vegan”, something will come up. That was not even an option a couple of years ago,” says Pablo.
“[Beauty brands’] audiences are changing but so are the values of the audience. Even five years ago Vegan products weren’t a priority for most people but it’s now at the forefront of our cultural consciousness,” Jordan adds.
The pair behind ‘The Big Switch’ sit down with HUNGER to discuss people’s reservations around making the change to vegan products, the inspirations behind the looks, and whether “the big switch” is really that big.
Should photographers be making more of a conscious effort to ensure MUAs are using cruelty-free products?
Jordan Rossi: I think photographers should be taking more responsibility in general, not just when it comes to cruelty-free makeup choices. Photographers, directors, creators all have to remember that the buck stops with them. I make a huge point to not only have diversity amongst my crew and cast but also implement simple choices that make the set a safe working environment. Things like including people’s pronouns on the call sheet (which I did for my projects last year) goes a long way to fostering a culture that is safe and inclusive.
Why do you think some people may still be reserved to adopt vegan products?
Pablo Rodriguez: Sometimes, it is just laziness to look for them. Other times, there’s the misconception that they will be inferior quality, which is totally untrue, even synthetic hair brushes can be superior than the animal bristles ones.
How did you go about capturing the full potential of the products?
JR: It’s quite funny actually. Even though the story was focused on using Vegan and cruelty free products they were actually the last thing to consider when constructing the makeup looks. What I mean by that is because this wasn’t a sponsored story we didn’t focus on getting X, Y and Z brands in there. The focus was always crafting looks that people could and would wear every day. The goal wasn’t to use beauty tools in unconventional ways but showcase the wearability of Vegan products on an everyday basis.
Do you try to incorporate vegan beauty products into most of your shoots?
PR: Absolutely! I hope that one day every makeup artist’s kit goes that direction, until eventually we all have 100% vegan kits, same for the consumers’ personal makeup bags. Including brushes!
What was your inspiration for The Big Switch shoot?
PR: The idea was to show that there’s so many brands out there that either are 100% vegan, or they have vegan options available. Show that any colour or texture can be found in a vegan version. Technology has advanced so much on this that there’s no limits anymore.
JR: I’m inspired by stories and visuals that sit outside of what the mainstream appeal is. Vegan and cruelty free beauty products are only just starting to come to the forefront of our cultural consciousness so it felt the right time to craft a story around this. I also wanted to create a story that had a series of everyday makeup looks that people could engage with and recreate themselves.
What’s the top three vegan products you use on a daily basis?
PR: Doing makeup on models: Glossier Skin Tints, Urban Decay Eye Shadow palettes, and any vegan lipsticks are welcome. For these, it depends more on colour requirement than a brand in particular.
Is the ‘Big Switch’ really a ‘big switch’ ?
JR: Yes, it is. It may not be for some, particularly those who are using vegan products already but I think it’s important to create a photo story around this and continue the discussion.
Check out more of the shoot below…