Beauty Simplified: Sheena Yaitanes’ on Her Line Kosas Cosmetics

Forget photo Editing. Anaheim Hills native Sheena Yaitanes’ new Kosas Cosmetics line is the makeup equivalent to a super-saturated Instagram filter. Yaitanes, 33, studied chemistry and biology at UC Irvine and earned an MBA at Chapman before launching Kosas Cosmetics with four lipsticks. She now offers eight, all long-lasting and hydrating, and has plans to expand her line.

Your lipsticks are getting a lot of attention. What’s next?
The cheek stuff. It’ll be a blush and highlighter duo, then mascara after that. I want to do a full face. The line will always be easy to navigate; it’ll have a simplicity to it. Some people might not like the lack of options, but I think it’s a relief.

Why launch a cosmetics line?
All my life I did art as a hobby, and this intersection was happening where I could do the science of making the formula feel good while also making the colors full of life. I think of these like a wine list, from light to dark. I was looking for the right texture. Gloss shows imperfections, so these are almost matte—semi-matte, but more natural. You can wear all of them day or night.

And the name comes from?
It’s a Sanskrit word, but it’s pronounced KOSH-as, and it’s this ayurvedic, Hindu philosophy of the five layers of the self. The physical layer is just one layer—there’s more to us than our physical beauty.

Can you explain how this relates to your makeup line?
I’m trying to get away from what beauty has become, which is just very overwhelming and that’s not fun. I want it to be useful: This is what you need to have a chic, cute, stylish‑looking face, in one brand.

How did you get a realistic outlook on beauty growing up in O.C.? Hardest thing in the world, right?
My mom worked in beauty. She said all these funny things—like when I got really bad acne, she said, “It’s cute. It’s not detracting from your beauty.” And I was like what does she mean? Now I understand. If everyone looks the same, what’s the point  of  looking
at anybody anymore?

Is your mom a fan?
I think she still doesn’t fully get it. I didn’t tell her anything about it. I didn’t even tell her I launched it. As it becomes successful, she becomes more OK with it. But it’s not what she wanted for me originally. We’re Persian; my parents are immigrants who really felt like they didn’t come to this country for me to take risks.

Is this line your legacy?
I hope I can leave it to my daughter. Having a child made me more organized and more ambitious. Electra (a punchy red shade) is named for my daughter, who is 3. She’s really bright and sassy, and the name has so much vibrational power—she is that, a lot of energy.

Did you set out to make a natural makeup line?
I didn’t; I set out to make the best performing brand. The natural oils came into play because of molecular weight. I use clean, hydrating ingredients like shea butter and green tea, rosehip, grapeseed, and sweet orange oils. I don’t believe in using parabens, phthalates, and sulfates. So this formula just turned out to be clean, because if you can, you should.

Advice to lipstick-wearers everywhere?
There are no rules. Just smear it on.

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