If you’re into green beauty and live on the North American continent, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with the work of Sheri Stroh. A champion of the clean skin care and cosmetics movement, Sheri is a Toronto-based makeup artist who could (and should!) write the book on dewy, glowing, youthful skin. I was charmed instantly by her vivacious and warm personality, but soon learned Sheri is also a no-nonsense powerhouse and cancer survivor who has advice, tips and recommendations on just about anything you want to know. In our interview, she dishes on her professional techniques for top-model skin, the perfect bedtime, and knowing when it’s time to shut it all down and take a vacation. Sheri is proving - one photoshoot at a time - that green beauty is here to stay. I am honored to share a deeper look into her fierce and fabulous life.
BLOOM: I’m such a fan of your work and want to thank you for showing people how luxe and high-performing natural beauty products can be. You’ve been working as a makeup artist for quite a while now – were you always using natural products or did you have an “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to veer towards green beauty?
SS: Like so many from my generation, I came from a place of processed foods and conventional products. This didn’t always sit right with me, but I wasn’t sure what the alternatives were. One day, I stumbled across the book Not Just A Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry and, as a makeup artist, I couldn’t resist picking it up. This book was a game changer for me - it really opened my eyes and made me wonder what we’re doing to ourselves in the name of beauty. About a year after reading the book, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and that’s when I got really into exploring green beauty options. Around that time, my husband and I moved to Guelph, a town outside of Toronto, where the community is really focused on clean eating, wellness and a more holistic lifestyle. This is where I discovered my first natural beauty store and I’ve been hooked ever since!
BLOOM: Wow, what a fascinating journey. It sounds like the book, the community, and the green beauty store came to you at exactly the right time! What has been your most exciting discovery in the world of green beauty?
SS: What excites me most is that natural skin care and cosmetics can perform so amazingly well, yet not contain harmful ingredients. I’ve discovered so many brands and products that I love using because they work so beautifully and also because I’m free from the anxiety of carcinogens or hormone-disrupting ingredients. My ultimate discovery has been the versatility of facial oils and oil-based cleansers. They’re really nourishing and gentle in skin care but can also be used to layer with cosmetics for maximum glow and dewy skin.
BLOOM: Yes! I’ve been having so much fun playing with makeup again now that there are safe options out there. You’re clearly passionate about it, but your whole world is skin care and cosmetics – where does your inspiration come from?
SS: I draw a lot of inspiration from the green beauty industry. I receive tons of products to test out and am constantly inspired by the scents, textures and ways to use them. I also thrive on the creative challenge of working within the theme of the shoot, the wardrobe and playing up the model’s facial structure. I love to see how I can prep and prime a model’s face through massage and oils to best use her skin as an asset. I aim to achieve a really beautiful look without having to cover the face with foundation, so if I can do that, I’m happy. The anti-makeup, fresh-from-a-facial-look is my motivation.
BLOOM: Your job sounds insanely fun and your passion for it really shines through. Can you share your top tips for maintaining high-quality skin?
SS: Honestly, the best tips are the most sensible ones we all know about, like sleep! Getting 8 hours of sleep as often as possible is huge, but also knowing that there’s a major quality difference between going to sleep at 10pm versus 2am. The earlier you go to bed, the deeper the state of rejuvenation your body experiences. Staying hydrated and eating more holistically is key for beautiful skin. Of course, some people are born lucky in the genetics department, but if you’re not taking care of yourself, it’ll show. Travel and hormonal imbalances happen to everyone, so doing what you can in terms of lifestyle and nutrition during those times is crucial.
BLOOM: Those of us who don’t regularly go behind the scenes with models tend to think of them as flawless, but of course this isn’t always the case. What are the most common skin conditions you see and how do you deal with them?
SS: Hands down, the most common issues I see are dehydrated skin, under-eye bags and breakouts. For dryness, I’m a big fan of layering serums, oil cleansers and mists. I’ll use an oil cleanser and oil-based serum for dry skin, topped with a toning mist to hold in hydration. I also combine an oil-based serum with foundation or other cosmetics to get a dewy, glowy look. For breakouts, I never pop or extract anything! I use Jane Iredale’s Glow Time Full Coverage BB Cream to cover a breakout or under-eye bags for a shoot – it’s amazing because it covers beautifully but doesn’t look like a mask, and it photographs amazingly well. When I see a girl with chronic breakouts or acne, I always recommend seeing a holistic nutritionist or naturopath to get to the root of her issues, because so often, chronic issues are hormonal.
BLOOM: Those are great tips. I’m a big fan of layering a touch of our Restore in with concealer to keep the eye area supple and finishing with Hydrate to get that all-over dewy look. I think all women should know these kinds of secrets because a lot of makeup tends to dry out during the day, which has the unintended effect of making us appear older. I’m sure you get asked for a ton of advice, but what’s the number one question you get?
SS: I get asked more than anything how to get glowing skin and how to achieve that look with products. My advice is to stay well hydrated and to layer skin care in with cosmetics. People love highlighting, so I also get asked a lot about how I do it. I can't express my love for RMS Beauty’s Living Luminizer enough. It’s my go-to because it gives the most natural looking glow. I don’t think there’s another luminizer out there that gives the same result.
BLOOM: I’m so excited you’re sharing your go-to products and techniques – I can’t wait to try them out! As a woman constantly on the go, what must-haves do you keep in your handbag at all times?
SS: Well, I’m basically a walking pharmacy and green beauty store. I always have a natural throat spray, oil of oregano, probiotics, digestive enzymes, RMS Living Luminizer, lip balm, hand cream, nail file, lipstick, lip gloss, roller ball of natural perfume, natural hand sanitizer and toothpick floss. And somehow I manage to fit it all into a small purse!
BLOOM: That’s an impressive haul! I don’t think I’m organized enough to keep up with all of that, but maybe one day… What is the most memorable job you’ve worked on?
SS: I once did a job for the Look Good Feel Better Program that offers beauty tips for women going through chemotherapy. One of the models had finished chemo and her hair was beginning to grow back into a gray pixie. She was really anxious to wear her wig and clearly had no idea how beautiful she was, her skin and eyebrows were amazing! When we saw her in the wig, we were blown away by how much it detracted from her beauty, so we convinced her to do the shoot without it. She trusted us and ended up being chosen for the cover. It was so inspiring to watch her own her beauty, and we all felt really empowered by her.
BLOOM: That’s a beautiful story and goes to show how sometimes we need to get out of our own way and just trust in our unique beauty. If you could do hair + makeup on anyone, who would it be?
SS: At this point, I’m really more interested in what it will be like to spend the day with someone versus working with a top model or celebrity. I really love funny women and women with stories to tell. I’d say Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Olivia Munn, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon...inspiring women who I feel I could learn something from. There’s so much to be said for life experience!
BLOOM: Agreed - substance and a good story go a long way! How do you wind down at the end of a long day?
SS: I admit it, I enjoy some TV in the evenings to relax. I’ve also become obsessed with cleaning my kitchen thoroughly at night – it’s so important for my mind to come down to a clean kitchen in the morning! I also remove makeup, without fail, every single night and really enjoy my beauty routine, which consists of oil cleansing and layering on serums and toners.
BLOOM: We all know the importance of self care nowadays. What’s your favorite way to spoil yourself?
SS: The big takeaway I got from cancer is that it’s so important for us to take care of ourselves. Before my diagnosis, I was a complete workaholic – I literally never took a day for myself. Now, I take vacations with no guilt and enjoy massages and facials at a wonderful holistic day spa near my house. I’ve also gotten really into Pilates and am loving how it makes my body feel. I can’t stress enough the importance of taking time and listening to your intuition. Truly living life is the most important thing and when I follow my gut, I always know when it’s time to take a break. I absolutely love my job, but taking time for myself when I need it makes it all the more fun and rewarding.
BLOOM: Sage wisdom from a woman who has truly learned that lesson the hard way. For those of us who may not already keep up with your work, where can we go to check it out?
SS: Instagram is the best place to keep up with me. I also talk about the products I use in each look, which is fun because so many people want to know how to get the looks naturally. You can find me @sheristroh.
BLOOM: I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story, your wisdom and your product recommendations with us! You are truly a gem and on behalf of the green beauty community, thank you for all you’re doing to make the world a little less toxic and lot more beautiful.
Written by Misty Litt. All photos courtesy of Sheri Stroh. Sheri is represented by the Plutino Group. www.PlutinoGroup.com