Sonia Kashuk Loves The No-Makeup Look So Much That She’s Launching Skincare Products

OK, so A doesn’t necessarily lead directly to B, but I interviewed the legendary makeup artist to find out more about the latest addition to her Target line.
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OK, so A doesn’t necessarily lead directly to B, but I interviewed the legendary makeup artist to find out more about the latest addition to her Target line.

Starting today, Sonia Kashuk will be including skincare in her line. You know the one—it’s at Target. Has its own display dominating the beauty aisle? Amazingly chic and affordable makeup brushes? Yeah, that Sonia Kashuk.

I had the utter pleasure of meeting her in person at Sonia Kashuk HQ and fondle said brushes myself (they are very soft) as well as play around with the curated four-piece skincare range, which, in my knowledge as a beauty editor/human with skin, feels great and has an impressive ingredient list topped with actives like kaolin clay, sulfur, AHAs, botanical extracts, vitamins B5 and C, and nourishing plant-based oils. They’re all geared for detoxification, gentle exfoliating and deep-cleaning.

An exceptionally warm person she may be, one thing to know about Sonia Kashuk is that she doesn’t bullshit you when it comes to anything in her line. These new skincare offerings are no exception. There’s the Resurface Gentle Exfoliating Wash, Renew Micro Exfoliating Toner, Detox Purifying Black Mask, and Dissolve Gel To Oil Makeup Removing Cleanser (this one’s available November 2015).

For a bit of context, when I first met Sonia, I told her that one of her eyeshadows was the first piece of makeup I bought with my own teenage money because it shared my name; appropriately, it was a matte, rich brown powder shadow named Sable. She must’ve deemed me OK company then because she allowed me to pick her brain about her beauty philosophies, how she runs her beauty line, and even offered some sage life advice.

The legend herself.

The legend herself.

Hi Sonia, thanks so much taking the time to speak with me.

Sonia: Of course! I’ll always remember you from what you told me about my eyeshadow—I know the exact one you’re talking about!

Oh my god, that makes me so happy! Do you remember the first makeup/beauty product you bought for yourself?

Not exactly; it was so long ago. I wore a ridiculous amount of makeup when I was younger, seriously. I do, however, remember loving this red, double-ended Shiseido lip color that was matte on one side and shiny on the other. It was the perfect shade of red, and to this day 30 years later, I still remember it. There was also something from Clé De Peau, which is also a Shiseido brand; they had this foundation stick with the most perfect shades and creamy texture and consistency. It was the kind of product that you hoard. You could only get it in Japan, so when a friend or model was going there I’d tell them, “Buy as many of these as you can!”

I see the likes of where some of your makeup inspiration must’ve come from then! I wanted to talk skincare with you, though, since these are launching real soon. It’s fairly abbreviated in terms of full-service. Why these four products?

Well, in order for your makeup to look good, the skin has to be in good condition. No matter how much makeup you pile on top, if the canvas underneath isn’t in good shape, the makeup won’t be able to hide it completely or really shine on its own. It’s important to me personally to cleanse and cleanse well. I want something I can start the day with feeling fresh. That’s why I start with something like an exfoliating face wash. I love the fresh-scrubbed feeling. From doing makeup for years, and using lots of it, it’s so, so important to cleanse the skin fully; otherwise, it can’t fully benefit from any other skincare treatments you’re doing.

I’m right there with you as a fellow skincare devotee. Was this something you always wanted to do on top of makeup? I know that there used to be a face oil that’s no longer available in your line, but is there a significance to the timing of this specific release?

Honestly, I’ve always personally been skincare-focused. It’s just taken a number of years to get the formulas right to release the products that I wanted and was happy with. I never want to put some filler product with my name on it out there, just for the sake of keeping up with seasons or trends. It’s always been about quality with my brand. The face oil was amazing; I loved that so much, and the response to it was incredible, which really told me that I needed to do more of this. 

These products have been in the works for two to three years, researching, formulating and testing. I was there in the labs with the white coats and hairnets for days on end, testing every product.

How do you generally come up with new products?

I’ll have an idea or concept and bring it to the people I work with at Target, where we can start developing. I work with the chemists to formulate and choose ingredients. I don’t get too involved in that process because I want to let those professionals—the scientists and chemists—do what they know best. I think newness and differentiation is important in developing new products. They’re the people who would know what ingredients are effective, which are “trending,” and are able to decide which combination of both those things would be the best for whatever we’re making.

I’ll tell them what I want in terms of texture, feel, color, results, purpose, and they go forth and make it happen. Texture and results are very important to me. I want them to work in a long-term sense, but I also want that instant gratification of the refreshing ahh! feeling after direct use.

I mean, all these skin care products seem LEGIT. They feel luxe, and the ingredients resonate with me as hard-working anti-fluff. Are you trying to be top dog in the skincare—or even beauty—game at masstige or drugstore level?

Working with Target has been amazing. They give me so much creative freedom, and know that that’s the best way to support my line—by stepping back and letting me do what I know. Being Target (read: huge), they’re able to let me stick to the vision I’ve always had for my brand, which is bringing luxury to the masses. Eighteen years ago, I started my line in Target and it’s been a dream ever since. It really shows that sticking to your vision will bring success.

L to R: Detox Purifying Black Mask ($15.99), Resurface Gentle Exfoliating Wash ($14.99), Renew Micro Exfoliating Toner ($14.99)

L to R: Detox Purifying Black Mask ($15.99), Resurface Gentle Exfoliating Wash ($14.99), Renew Micro Exfoliating Toner ($14.99)

Any plans for expanding skincare in your line?

Sure, I love targeted skincare treatments like eye creams. I’m into adding elements as needed to the line based on reaction and need.

How do you feel about the “bare-faced” or “no-makeup” trend that’s been happening for a while now?

I love it. No-makeup doesn’t even necessarily mean no makeup. I think the face of a girl or the face of a woman is the most beautiful thing, so making that look its best with the most of its own integrity or least amount of adornment is so important and core to a woman’s self-confidence and spirit. It allows us to shine as we are and really embrace the beauty of individuality. I mean, I love, love, love a smoky eye and seeing color, but if you can know and own one look in your beauty arsenal—kind of like the no-makeup makeup look—you can always look put together and like the best version of you, and then build from there in whatever way you wish to add color or transform.

What would you say to someone whose dream it was to start his or her own beauty brand, kind of like yours?

You know, you need a dream before it can be real, so dreaming is one of the most important parts of living because it gives you the idea, and then it’s up to you where to take that. Oftentimes, in that dream, you have to kind of put on blinders because it’s so easy to get distracted or detoured, and undoubtedly somebody will say, “Oh, I don’t understand that.” I think if your dream has vision about how to go about executing it and then you wrap it up in a bit of passion, there’s always room for something new. That’s just way our world is built—on new ideas. So go for it!

I was definitely the person in my family who couldn’t find their way and was floundering. My siblings all went to nursing school or medical school or college, and I ended up in beauty school and my parents were freaking out like, “How are you going to support yourself?!” I had the idea to go into makeup, and my vision and clarity to start a makeup brand and then partner with Target. It was very focused, I was like, I’m going to go to Target with this idea. And with the success we’ve achieved almost 18 years later… I mean, God, it’s like I’m still living a dream. So I guess the dream never ended. I don’t know if I want to wake up!

Sonia Kashuk's Skin line arrives at Target stores and target.com on August 24.

  • What's your favorite Sonia Kashuk product? 
  • What other skincare products would you like to see from her?