Alchemists of beauty

'Beauty is an inside job'

Photo: Tina Larkin

Originally published in Taos News

Krysia Boinis has a special affinity for plants, a passion for beauty and keen entrepreneurial spirit. She has channeled them all to make a difference in the cosmetics industry. After creating a successful private label company specializing in natural and organic cosmetic design and manufacturing, she launched her own brand, Vapour Organic Beauty, with co-founders Kristine Keheley and Eric Sakas in 2009.
One of the reasons that led Boinis to start her own company was her dissatisfaction with the practice of “greenwashing,” so prevalent in the cosmetic industry.

“Greenwashing is the practice of misleading customers by promoting and labeling products as healthy, safe and sustainable when in fact they are not,” Boinis says. “The truth is that everyday exposure to toxins in our environment, especially those we ingest or apply to our bodies, can create imbalances which in turn invite disease.”

Therefore, Boinis and Keheley focused their attention on creating a company based on the principles of performance and purity as first priorities.

“The number one complaint about natural cosmetics is that they do not perform as well as conventional products,” says Boinis. “Vapour shatters this notion with amazing performance. Our Atmosphere foundation has been recognized in many diverse categories like Teen, Senior, Ethnic, Green and Beauty focused organizations.”

Vapour has also earned the coveted “Champion Safety Status” by the Environmental Working Group and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

“Like organic food is healthier to eat, organic cosmetics are healthier to wear,” says Boinis. “That’s why Vapour is based on Certified Organic, minimally processed, food-grade ingredients.”

Boinis explains that Vapour products contain a minimum of 70% certified organic ingredients and 30% mineral pigments and natural vitamins. “Vapour does not test on animals, nor are any of Vapour’s raw ingredients tested on animals,” she says. “We use an anhydrous (without water) filling system, which reduces landfill waste during manufacturing as well as passive solar and wind power. Packaging is recyclable and recycled. Since all Vapour formulas are waterless they aren’t stressing Taos’ delicate water aquifer either.”

To make sure that standards are upheld, 99.9% percent of Vapour products are made in Taos, at Boinis’ and her husband Greg Martin’s USDA Certified Organic facility. “We are making cosmetics to the highest food standard in the USA,” she says. “We are raising the bar.”

Boinis sees herself and her staff not just as manufacturers of healthy and natural products, but also as alchemists of beauty. “Beauty is an inside job,” she says. “When we are doing what’s right for us on the inside it radiates outward; this is true beauty.” Vapour products have a dual function—they are designed to beautify and protect the skin at the same time.

“Our cosmetics are rich in antioxidant blends that protect the skin and help prevent aging,” says Boinis. “For example, the Atmosphere Soft Focus foundation diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while keeping the skin hydrated.”

Another plus is that Vapour products are easy to apply (Boinis suggests using the fingertips for foundation, concealer and skin perfector) and feel practically weightless on the skin. Vapour’s Atmosphere Foundation has won six industry awards for product excellence and has a growing number of celebrity fans including Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba, who told InStyle Magazine, “Vapour foundation makes my complexion look flawless.”

As a line, Vapour has won 14 national awards to date, including the prestigious Allure Magazine “Best of Beauty Award” in its first year. Company products have been featured in publications like Vogue, People, Allure, Lucky, Elle, Real Simple, Whole Living, Health, Shape, New York Times and LA Times. 

Vapour Elixir Plumping Gloss and Vapour Atmosphere Foundation are two of the company’s most popular items. “Vapour Elixir Plumping Gloss was named People Style Watch’s #1 Lip Gloss over Chanel and other mainstream heavyweights,” says Boinis, adding that it was the only organic gloss in the line up.  100% of proceeds from Elixir Plumping Gloss in Honor (a color) are donated to alternative breast cancer research.

“The untold truth about cancer research is that most funding goes to additional research on traditional treatments; chemo, radiation and surgery,” says Boinis, who is a two-time breast cancer survivor. “Virtually no money goes to test alternative treatment or prevention options. It’s a cycle that keeps people’s options limited and we want to help change that.”

Vapour also strives to set an example of a new business paradigm: sustainable, ethical and honest, with purpose and heart.  “We provide a living wage, flexible hours, health insurance and a creative, nurturing, light–filled environment for 21 Taoseños,” she says.  She estimates that Vapour will create 6 to12 new jobs in Taos in 2013.

Boinis has been honored with the PNM Entrepreneurial Leadership Award in 2004, the New Mexico Small Business Heavy Weights Award in 2010, and named a Remarkable Woman of Taos in 2012.

“Vapour’s mission is to be more than a cosmetic company. Vapour is an act of self-expression and truth; an instrument to share health, consciousness, and joy with others,”she says. “We set high standards for our company, our products and ourselves.  We invite our customers and our competition to join us in our mission to leave the world a better place than we found it.”

Vapour products are sold in select spas, boutiques and e-tailors in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK.  They are available through and at Substance in Taos, Cupcake Clothing and Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe and the Highland Pharmacy in Albuquerque. In 2013 Vapour plans to expand distribution to Europe and Japan.

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