Conscious Beauty Union

Freelance Life

Meet the artist – Crystabel Riley

In our meet the artist series, we meet Crystabel Riley, an artist who is pushing the boundaries of conscious beauty. In her kit you'll find consciously selected brands that fit her ethos, alongside more experimental medium such as vegan gelatin and seaweed.


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Crystabel Riley is on a mission. From experimenting with natural ingredients as makeup mediums to her signature hand-sewn upcycled washcloths, which highlight her dedication to a zero/low waste approach. She brings this practice to all aspects of her work, including shows for London Fashion Week (of which I’ve got the cloths to prove it – thank you!)

Crystabel is a long time friend of CBU, we’re huge fans of her work and are so pleased to introduce here.

Crystabel's Conscious Journey

Q: How did you get into conscious beauty?

I suffered from eczema and I was reacting to a lot of the makeup I was using to the point that I could barely wear any and was having to be more and more minimal with my skin and body care. At the same time I met a ‘Green Make-up Artist’ called Lou Dartford who I was fascinated by! During a series of conversations, I understood more about her practice and ethos and I started to go on that journey in a more focused way.

Q: Why is conscious beauty important to you – what is your definition of conscious beauty?

To me conscious beauty is about power and the knowledge that creates that power, so it’s like  empowering ourselves through beauty which is really nice. Learning more about our surroundings and making decisions with that knowledge, and gradually changing the climate of beauty so brands begin to work together with consumers in that journey for finding and connecting with the world through beauty.

It’s important because we see so many injustices going on around the world that it’s really one of the few places that we as humans can have some control over how we connect with the world as consumers. It’s also really not an exclusive thing as anyone can do it to any extent about anything they purchase. If you are wondering about something then it’s feeling empowered enough to reach out and ask about that. Over the last five years this approach has really changed the climate of the industry to be a place where brands talk more about what they are doing and transparency is celebrated. When I was growing up it seemed more like beauty was linked to a mysterious ‘patent’ culture and that was what was alluring to people but this has really changed.

Q: What challenges have you faced?

Perhaps when I was asked to head my own team at London Fashion Week, it was really really challenging to me try and translate what I was doing in terms of working with a low waste practice, but then to try and translate that to a team of artists, so it wasn’t just about executing a look but it was executing an ethos… and executing an aspiration. I had to actually stay up nights on end figuring out (how to use a sewing machine) and make enough reusable cloth for the high model count. I was lucky enough to have Lou Dartford on the team and other practitioners like Melanie Christou that were really supportive of this way and in the end it was sort of easy.

Favourite job so far?

Probably the Atmos shoot with Ben Toms and Robbie Spencer, they are really an amazing team and I felt I had been through so much with some of the materials I worked with.  I had wanted to work with feathers but without having anything to do with the feather ‘industry’ which is quite horrible, so I was really happy to have found a way; I had been collecting duck feathers intermittently for a year or so, which I then sterilised. It was such a process that I felt so bonded to them!

Q: Favourites in the kit?

Twelve Beauty hydrating lip treatment is amazing gloss effect. Jillian Dempsey mini Fan Brush of which I have 3. I really like the RnR Beauty Shea Oil which smells amazing and I often mix in with other body cream for extra hydration.

Q: Desert Island product?

One of the Axiology Beauty Zerowaste Balmies which I would probably start to use on my body so I could enjoy some sort of make-up exhibitionism if I had no mirror for my face. And of course there wouldn’t be any recycling on the island so could get through an endless amount without a rubbish pile.

Hopes for the future?

Q: More minimalism and finding ways for brands to downsize with the amount of stuff but upsize with the story and integrity and flexibility.


We love how Crystabel’s work shows that conscious beauty doesn’t have to be limiting. It can actually help us develop as artists and become more creative in so many ways.

See more of Crystabel’s work here.

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