What a bright idea! Student finds way to give new artistic life to unwanted make-up
A University of Sussex student has devised a way of transforming eye-shadows into eye-catching paints which could stop millions of tons of beauty products from going to landfill.
Ameenah Begum, 23, has developed a method for transforming the colours of eyeshadow palettes into distinctive paints for water colourists which will add a “cosmic shimmer” to their artwork.
Cos Watercolours could help find new uses for colour cosmetics which are currently sent to landfill by retailers if they are dropped, damaged or discontinued and no longer suitable for sale on shop floors.
She said: “The scale of the beauty industry worldwide and the continuing speed of its growth in the near future means there is a real need to make its products more sustainable and reduce their waste footprint. One Brighton store told me they fill up a refuse bag of unsold colour cosmetics every three months and that is just one store in one city. I hope artists will love adding Cos Watercolours to their palette while knowing they are doing their bit for the planet and that beauty companies will see the huge benefits of reducing the amount of materials they send to landfill, whilst also potentially making money from a circular economy model.”
Ameenah said the idea came from analysing her own habits and how she would often purchase cosmetic items labelled as “disposable" when travelling, rather than making use of what she already had.
It got her thinking about the scale of the problem and how many tonnes of unfinished beauty products might be cluttering up landfill sites around the world.
She said: “I wanted to find a way of using the colour of the cosmetic. By crushing it down to create a pigment, you can create the basis for some very attractive paint colours that offer the artist something new with a unique finish for watercolours.”
The upcycled paints are treated with Gum Arabic solution, Ox Gall solution and distilled water to create a paint suitable for water colourists.
After crushing down the eye shadow into a pigment and adding the additional chemicals to treat the paint, they take around 24 hours to dry before they are ready for use.
The new paints have been given the seal of approval by professional artists as well as members of local creative meet-up groups.
Brighton-based artist Liz Goddard said: “Cos Watercolours come in a range of beautiful colours in a very attractive, useful container. I found the paints to have a warm, glowing quality about them, easy to mix together and apply to paper. Also, I was impressed with the wide range of skin tones, which would be ideal for rapid, energetic compositions, particularly when painting from a life model, where valuable time could be spent painting, not mixing. Recycling cosmetics into a painting medium for artists is a great idea. There is a growing awareness surrounding items we are all throwing away, and Ameenah has identified an opportunity with Cos Watercolours so everyone can benefit.”
Cos Watercolours was displayed alongside other student creations at the Product Design Show at the University of Sussex earlier this month and will also be presented at the New Designers exhibition at the Business Design Centre in London between 4 July and 7 July.
Diane Simpson-Little, head of the product design degree at the University of Sussex, said: “Using in-depth research and user testing Ameenah has developed a very creative and innovative solution to the very significant problem of the waste generated in the beauty industry. Her product not only demonstrates some great design thinking but also illustrates our course ethos that all design should be regenerative.”
Ameenah said: "When I was thinking about university courses, I was advised at my college to consider illustration. But I wanted to keep an academic side alongside the creativity and product design has worked out to be the perfect solution. It includes elements from lots of different disciplines, a little bit of engineering, business, maths and an understanding of physics and chemicals, whilst still keeping my artistic side.”
Product design students will be appearing at the New Designers exhibition which runs between 4 July and 7 July at the Business Design Centre in London. For more details visit here.