Green Beauty and Wellness Tips with Celebrity Makeup Artist, Sheri Stroh
Living a green lifestyle isn’t always easy. Whether it’s trying to find ecofriendly cleaning products that get the job done, getting into disputes with coworkers about recycling or trying to find a quick organic snack – a green life is filled with little challenges, and sometimes we come across information that can be downright alarming. Celebrity makeup artist, Sheri Stroh, a self admitted alarmist, works in an industry that doesn’t have the most ecofriendly reputation. As a makeup artist, Sheri has worked with products full of questionable ingredients. After reading about potential toxins in cosmetics in Stacy Malkan’s Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry, she considered ways in which she could lessen her own exposure to harmful ingredients. But, with a lack of diversity in the industry, the products she encountered underwhelmed her.
Nearly 5 years ago, Sheri was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, she responded well to treatment and, while her journey was long, she is now considered healthy by the standards of the medical community. It was after this experience that Sheri really began to look into green beauty. Since her last encounter with natural products years before, growing demand had caused the industry to boom, and Sheri was thrilled to find ecofriendly replacements for just about everything she needed.
Sheri has adorned the faces of Penelope Cruz, Cate Blanchett and Catherine Zeta-Jones to name a few and her talent and makeup advice has been featured in Elle, Marie Claire, Chatelaine, Canadian Living and Sports Illustrated. She was recently a part of Rethinks LiveLaughLearn beauty series in which she gave skincare tips to those undergoing cancer treatment. As a green makeup artist, Sheri proves that beauty doesn’t need to come at the expense of your well-being. Here are her thoughts on health and wellness.
What is your favourite ritual (beauty or non-beauty related) when you find yourself home alone? I have a bunch of beauty rituals, some I've had for years and some are new, but my new favourite one is oil cleansing, I absolutely love it! I was always a foaming face wash/soap girl; I wanted squeaky clean skin so that it 'took care' of my oily, greasy complexion. What I didn't realize was that it was counter productive for my skin and I was actually making it worse and sometimes even irritated. Fast forward to 2010 and my breast cancer diagnoses and chemo, where I started using a cream cleanser for sensitive skin and fell in love with it. My skin had never felt so soft and smooth, removing make-up was a breeze and there was no dryness afterward which was amazing. After my cancer treatments ended, my skin did change a bit due to hormones and obvious chemicals, but I kept using the cream cleanser and moisturizing more than I ever had in my life. Now I use straight up organic oil to cleanse (I have used pre-made oil cleansers and love them too, but this is easier for me). I really massage my face to increase circulation and lymphatic drainage (about 1 minute), this also makes sure I get all of my make up off. Then I take a muslin or bamboo cloth that I have run under warm/warm-hot water and wrung out and place it over my face to steam for 10 seconds, then I wipe it all off. My skin has never been better, it's softer and way more clear and plump (although I'm sure some of my other 'rituals' can claim credit as well haha).
If you were ever to start your own line of beauty products, what would it look like? What would you specialize in? If I were to ever start my own line, and that is something that feels oh so daunting to me haha, it would contain what I consider that 'best' of what I actually use (in my kit and on myself). I would concentrate on everything not only being natural, but looking natural and being easy to use and containing ingredients that feed the skin and work to make it better. Texture is a big deal to me and I don't like wearing foundation (I find them all too heavy for me and I hate seeing that part of make-up on people). You can tell from my instagram that I love skin and I do everything possible to minimize the amount of skin-covering product used. I am very picky about my concealer and mascara and any products that are supposed to give a good glow so I would focus on that I guess. I have to admit though, that I have found a multitude of amazing make-up from all of the wonderful 'green' brands that have been reaching out and supporting me.
Our culture is obsessed with “fighting” aging; is there anything you’re looking forward to when it comes to getting older? I get obsessed with it too haha. I have recently noticed that I definitely look different than I did 6 years ago (I guess it's not so bad that I am just noticing this now lol). It was a little troubling to realize that at first, but it's really not so bad and I have accepted it and I am actually enjoying the challenge of aging gracefully in an all-natural way (who knows, I may eat my words someday, but for now, it's cool). It's funny, I never notice or mind when models or clients that I'm working on have lines or wrinkles, in fact, I find them quite beautiful, so it was time for me to think of myself in that way and that has been quite calming and reassuring. This does sound very strange to me as I'm only 41 so I shouldn't really be caring all that much about all of this, but it's our industry (beauty and fashion) and the world we live in, so it's no surprise we all get a little spooked when it comes to the dreaded 'aging', but I think there is balance to be had and I look forward to any happiness and sadness in my life (so far and to come) to show on my face and keep me grounded and strong.
What is your eating style? (Gluten free, dairy free, paleo etc.) My eating style is pretty eclectic hahaha! I love food and usually have no will power (although like time management, I have been working on that too!). When I'm not working, my diet is pretty great, lots of veggies and fruit and water and herbal tea; lots of whole foods and good, healthy fats. Where it can suffer is when I'm busy with work and catered food surrounds me (which always means a lot of food, all of the time and of course breakfast pastries and dessert after lunch lol). Like I said, I'm working on my will power though and have been pretty successful as of late (of course I still treat myself though, if I feel it's worth it……..real butter croissants, Bonjour Brioche anyone?, are a weakness). If I have a coffee, it's usually just one a day and I can always skip it, it's not needed. I really do need to up my water intake though, I find that everyone does.
As for meat, I love steak and roasted chicken, but I don't go out of my way to eat it every day and I make sure to get my protein from other sources (fish is great too, but I'm pretty picky where it comes from and how it was raised, same as with all of our meat and dairy).
We are big into organic fruits and veggies which we get from our local CSA along with our fresh eggs and (sometimes) bread (another huge weakness). I love cheese and aside from Kefir or plain greek yogurt, that's all the dairy I tend to consume, but I do keep it to a minimum as I find it can be very inflammatory.
I'm quite lucky that I don't have a big sweet tooth, so staying away from sugar is usually easy for me and I don't have a love for processed food either (I can eat it, but I usually feel, and see, the effects so it's not really all that worth it……I will eat it if I have to though, I'm not one to starve lol). I have really come to observe and learn how food affects my skin and I love the results when my diet is balanced and on point. Recently, I was on vacation with a lot of travelling but not a lot of vegetables or variety, and that meant a lot of fried food (with 'some' alcohol and chips….another weakness haha thrown in). While my vacation was so much fun and it was worth it in the end, my skin (and overall feeling of wellbeing) completely suffered for it! I could not believe the change. That was a couple weeks ago and getting back into my 'routine' has helped and I'm pretty much back to normal.
Do you have a quick and easy wellness or beauty tip to share? I cannot stress this enough, DRINK MORE WATER. Even if you think you already drink enough, you probably don't, so drink up! I am a casualty of this myself and I need to take my own advice. Carry a water bottle around with you and sip throughout the day and refill whenever needed (which should be more often than you think haha). Oh, and start your day with a glass of warm water with lemon, it's amazing and really works to get everything going and detoxes the liver too.
What are your favourite beauty necessities? My beauty necessities are cleansing oil, facial oil, eye cream, natural sunscreen, concealer, brow filler/pencil, bronzer, luminizer and a good lipstick or lip balm. I can make due without all of that or I can totally add to the list (as I do in fact use more products and little more make up than that). These are the basics for me. Oh! And HAND CREAM!
Any kitchen-beautician DIYs to share? I love using manuka honey (or any raw, unpasturized honey for that matter) for anything from dry patches to spots and pimples, it's very hydrating and antibacterial. I have started brushing my teeth with activated charcoal (what a mess haha!) and I'm doing oil pulling with coconut oil too to really start taking care of my teeth (and to help whiten). Apple cider vinegar (organic, with the 'mother') is a godsend for quite a few things (bloating, acne, candida), but it smells like Satan's feet. I also love baths with baking soda and himalayan or epsom salts to detox.
What's the wildest or weirdest thing you've done for health or beauty? I've probably done a lot of weird stuff for beauty, nothing outrageous, but definitely weird lol. What comes to mind though is being 13, going to the grocery store on a random weeknight, buying Nice & Easy in a not so flattering blonde shade and dying my hair that night. All without asking or telling my parents that I was doing it. Within about an hour and a half, they had a daughter with super brassy blonde hair, and I honestly don't think they were all that surprised, although they were quick to tell me how ridiculous it looked (they were right, it was quite awful), but I thought I was cool and didn't care what they had to say about it haha!
My parents were also very amused with my use of oatmeal as a DIY facial mask when I was 11.
What is your go-to when you feel like changing up your look? (New haircut, new lipstick, new workout, etc.) My hair is never the same, I'm always cutting it or growing it out, which gets annoying sometimes as growing out stages can really suck. It's not about anything trendy with me, I just get bored easily with my hair. If not for hair changes, I would say lips, but while I may try out shades that are more bold, I always gravitate back to my tried and true basic pink/peach/nudes or lip balm. Right now I'm into rosy-browns, marsala stains and orchid shades.
Are there any health or wellness books that had an impact on your life that you recommend? Not Just a Pretty Face was huge for me, I read it in 2008 and it really opened my eyes and made me think about what I was putting on my skin and the effects it could potentially have on me health wise and on the planet. I'm so thankful for that book, and even though I was diagnosed with breast cancer about a year and half later, it was a big wake-up call for me and really got the ball rolling for my love and support of green beauty products, something that has only grown, as the whole movement and the amount (and overall awesomeness!) of brands has.
Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore is the latest great book on skin for me! So full of knowledge, it's incredibly helpful and makes total sense (and it's actually quite easy)! I highly recommend both!