Brand Break Down: Kester Black

Updated: Mar 16

*This feature is not sponsored or paid for in any way by Kester Black or any other invested party


Voted the most ethical beauty brand by the APAC Business Awards in 2019 and the first beauty brand with B Corp certification, Kester Black is already one to watch in the ethical beauty industry despite it being relatively new in the beauty industry. They are “initiating a new code of ethics for cosmetics that other brands can follow.” Their current product portfolio includes lipsticks and nail care, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the brand branched out into other product lines in the future. And if their current stellar reviews are any indication of how good those future products will be, we kinda want them to.

Kester Black markets its products as high performance while being as ethical as could be - meaning you could enjoy the great quality you expect without worrying about negative environmental or socio-economic impacts. They’re even carbon neutral - certified by the Carbon Reduction Institute. And if you worry that all this has meant they’ve sacrificed quality, the long list of awards for their products’ quality might reassure you. So, we took a deep dive into Kester Black and spoke to a representative from the brand to learn more about it.



Anna Ross - founder of Kester Black
Anna Ross - founder of Kester Black

OWNERSHIP

Kester Black has no parent company and is privately owned. It was founded by Anna Ross. who grew up in New Zealand with a passion for natural beauty inspired by her natural heritage.



INGREDIENTS

& RAW MATERIALS

Kester Black boasts a lot of certifications. Aside from their B Corp and carbon neutral certification, they are certified vegan by The Vegan Society, cruelty-free by International Cruelty Free (they also do not sell in mainland China), and are certified Halal. They are, however, not certified organic.


Their products are palm oil free, but unfortunately not palm oil derivative free. They provide a detailed explanation of this on their website, but basically, some of their products contain essential ingredients that are palm-derived which at this time, they have not found a suitable sustainable replacement for. Kester Black explains on their website that the alternatives they have found are either difficult to source or come with their own issues when it comes to sustainability. They assure consumers though that they are working hard to make advancements here. In the meantime, for the sake of transparency, they provide a list of the palm oil derivatives they use on their website.


Kester Back nail polish formulas are all 10-Free, which means it doesn’t contain any of the following:

  • Formaldehyde

  • Toluene

  • DBP

  • Camphor

  • Formaldehyde resin

  • Xylene

  • Parabens

  • Fragrances

  • Phthalates

  • and animal-derived ingredients

For a full list of ingredients Kester Black promises to never use, you can refer to this list.

First Date lipstick by Kester Black

SOURCING & PRODUCTION

To ensure that they are using only the highest quality ingredients, Kester Black sources the majority of their raw ingredients from Europe. However, they do not have any fair trade certifications or any other certifications to prove sustainable sourcing. A representative for the brand also tells us that while a lot of their suppliers are certified cruelty-free, they do have suppliers that do not have cruelty-free certification.


The company manufactures their product in three different countries. Their lipsticks are made in Italy, nail treatments and some nail polishes are made in France, while removers and some nail polishes are made in Australia. The company chose Europe to manufacture their products outside Australia because they have market-leading manufacturing legislation and the feel that this gives them and their customers more confidence in the quality of their products.

PACKAGING & RECYCLING OPTIONS

The Kester Black website says they design their products with their end of life in mind and with as much recyclable packaging as possible.


Their shipping boxes are made of 100% uncoated recycled stock and printed with soy inks while their jiffy bags are made from recycled limestone. They don’t have a recycling program or refilling option though.

GIVING BACK & ADVOCACY

According to a representative, Kester Black donates 2% of company revenue to various charities.

DIVERSITY & INCLUSIVITY

According to a representative, Kester Black has a 50-50 gender split in their workforce.


Kester Black nail polish in the shades Raspberry and Buttercream

Kester Black’s awards, certifications, and reviews speak for themselves. However, they currently have a limited product range. Hopefully, there are plans to change that because as far as beauty companies go, Kester Black is the only one we’ve encountered so far that boasts this many sustainability brownie points and seems to really have committed to having sustainability at the heart of their business.


Kester Black is available in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and the Pitcairn Islands, as well as in the US, the UK, and Europe.