Sheena Zadeh-Daly, The Beauty Supernova Behind KOSAS
Beauty comes from within.
Beauty is not just a mere aesthetic factor, but it is also how you behave towards people, the environment surrounding you, and all living beings.
It’s every form of kindness and every act of love, whether it’s saying “thank you, sorry” or just sitting silently next to a person in pain.
I recently read an article that left me deeply shocked: boys and girls aged 18 to 30 approach aesthetic medicine to emulate aesthetic models present on social networks, which often includes the fact that photos and videos are present with filters and that, therefore, the person of the image or video is not like this in real life. In addition to leading to unreal aesthetic expectations, all this can also lead to negative psychological implications. Wanting to improve yourself by doing targeted mini-touch-ups without abuses is fine, but excessive and unnatural retouching to look like an Instagram filter is absolutely harmful to the body and mind.
Feeling good about yourself is a job that begins within us, and wanting to take care of yourself even aesthetically is absolutely NOT an act to be relegated to vanity; quite the contrary. Skincare and makeup are wonderful tools to make us feel better and, why not, also help us experiment with new ways and boost confidence.
Sheena Zadeh-Daly, the founder of the hottest brand of the moment, KOSAS, has been on my radar for a long time as her philosophy represents the perfect attitude in relating to beauty.
Using “no-makeup makeup” as a manifesto, Sheena is the bearer of a movement in which words alone are no longer enough; action must be taken to change society’s course, investing in fewer but extremely high-quality products. Fast fashion, like fast beauty, has taken off in recent years, and Sheena with KOSAS reverses the trend and puts the focus on quality rather than quantity.
Composure: First of all, congratulations on being one of the personalities who are really making changes in the beauty industry. Not only words but actions! What is the typical day in the life of Sheena Zadeh-Daly?
Sheena: I love having a routine. I start my mornings slowly with coffee and some time to myself before getting ready for the day. I love the days I can drive my daughter to school. And then I do what my calendar tells me what to do. No two workdays are the same for me. Some days I’m in the office; others, I’m at the lab looking at product samples or on the set of a shoot. We have family dinner every night at six, and I’m usually in bed by 9:30, where I watch Friends before I fall asleep.
CM: You are the oldest child of Iranian immigrants. How did their teachings prepare you to build a brand? Have you ever experienced generational trauma?
S: I grew up with a lot of family members and around a lot of different personalities. We come from a collectivist culture, which has helped prepare me to be more cooperative and better able to think about the needs of the different people on the team as the brand has continued to grow. My parents also suffered so much loss and instability in their lives, which is why I really value the idea of a stable home and lifestyle.
CM: How was KOSAS born / What was your journey in creating KOSAS?
S: My mom used to work in retail behind the makeup counter and would bring home makeup all the time. I was always playing with makeup. I loved it so much. It became such a dream for me to have my own makeup brand. When my own daughter was a baby, I remember looking at her
and telling her that I hoped she could follow her dreams one day and that I was willing to do anything to help clear the path. But then I realized that I hadn’t set an example for her. How could I really give her the advice to follow her dreams if I hadn’t yet followed mine? So it was right then and there, when she was eight months old, that Kosas was born.
CM: Why did you choose the name KOSAS?
S: The name Kosas is a Sanskrit word that comes from the philosophy of the five layers of the self. The physical layer is just one layer — there’s so much more to beauty than just how we look on the surface.
CM: You launched KOSAS in 2015 with four lipsticks inspired by the earthy blends of neutrals and pinks you made in a portrait painting class. You were born as a creative personality since Microscope
Set and an Art Kit were your fave toys, and you created your first makeup product at the age of Ten, a glitter gel highlighter. Did you always believe in yourself and your talents, or did you learn to embrace them through your life journey?
S: When you’re born a creative, you have all this energy but haven’t yet mastered your craft, so there’s a lot of self-doubt. I felt compelled to tell a story, so I kept trying. It’s actually a really painful process, and I’ve finally reached the point where it’s not as painful. I don’t take for
granted having the skills to match the ideas in my head. I consider it a gift that I worked really hard for.
CM: Launching a new brand can be very challenging mentally; what were some difficulties you encountered, and how did you overcome them?
S: People tend to be so skeptical towards a new brand because you don’t have any credibility yet. Everything that the brand is going to be exists only in your head, and you meet other people along the way who have faith and believe in the brand—those are the people that made it all
possible. For the first two years, people would ask me why we existed and what the brand was about, and I only knew it as a feeling inside myself. It took working with really talented people along the way who were able to formalize and put the brand story into a tangible form.
CM: Do you have a “pinch me” moment—a point in your career where you realized you had made it, or were you on your way?
S: That moment happened when I walked into our first physical headquarters for the first time. We finally had a space that wasn’t my house or garage.
CM: I read that you have very sensitive skin, and with KOSAS, you have banned more than 2,700 ingredients from your product line. With your brand, you promote a “no-makeup makeup” that prioritizes the importance of having healthy skin. What are your thoughts on “fast
beauty” (the same idea as fast fashion), where people are surrounded by an enormous quantity of products to use when our skin only needs a few outstanding products? Is quality over quantity a motto of KOSAS too?
S: If you start from a place of intention and goals for your skin/face/look, then back into the products, you’ll end up with exactly what you need. Every product I use has a “why” behind it. Fast beauty doesn’t have that intention; it’s about moving merchandise.
CM: As a businesswoman, what’s your most crucial advice to other women on the verge of becoming the CEO/founder of their own working lives?
S: Figure out what you’re uniquely talented at doing and what you should delegate to others who are better than you at doing. Settle in because it’s a long ride. Be comfortable with the fact that things take time. Learn from others so you can decide where you think it’s valuable to follow a
playbook or where it makes sense for you to innovate.
CM: You recently remarried; congratulations! What do you think are the secrets to a healthy marriage?
S: For us, it’s being able to cultivate a sense of security and comfort in our relationship but also maintain a sense of wonder and excitement so that each person will be the most fulfilled.
CM: You are the mother of a young daughter. Sadly, children today are constantly bombarded with unrealistic beauty standards. How have you taught your daughter self-love and the importance of inner beauty?
S: The reality is I learn more from her than she does from me. She’s very body positive because she’s of a generation that embraces the differences. She knows what a filter is and thinks they’re terrible.
CM: It is said that the most beautiful things are waiting for us at the end of our comfort zone and that fear is just a state created by our minds. What are your thoughts on that?
S: Usually, when we’re afraid, there’s a pattern to be learned about ourselves, so it’s not just about walking through the fear but identifying the root so we can grow.
CM: Can you tell me about your typical skincare routine?
S: I usually double cleanse and use a hot washcloth to remove any residue. I use the Kosas Plump +Juicy Spray-On Serum morning and night to hydrate, reset my skin’s microbiome, and it provides collagen support. And I apply our new DreamBeam SPF 40 under my makeup for sun protection. I also take a couple of supplements as part of my skincare routine.
CM: What are the top 3 KOSAS products that everyone should own and why?
S: Revealer Concealer because it is such a multifunctional complexion product. You can get your skin to look smooth and even, and it also brightens and hydrates. DreamBeam is such a powerhouse product because it offers maximum sun protection, but the ingredients are so
skincare-focused that it doubles as a moisturizer and pairs perfectly under makeup. Brow Pop Pencil gives me the most dramatic transformation by shaping my brows to help frame my face.
CM: Can we expect any new upcoming launches for KOSAS? Do you have any juicy hints you can tell without revealing too much?
S: All I can say is that “juicy” is an accurate way to describe our next launch.
CM: What is “BEAUTY” for you? It must not be related specifically to the aesthetic part; just if I tell you BEAUTY describe it without having to remain in conventional outlines.
S: Beauty is a feeling. It’s the unique relationship between you and you. When you develop an unwavering sense of self and are rooted in your own inner matrix, you’re free to reveal, express and feel comfortable in your own skin.
The winds have changed, and a substantial return to the essentials is necessary. The ephemeral is just smoke around us that clouds our eyes from capturing the real substance of things. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, with The Little Prince, taught us that the essential is invisible to the eyes, and you can perceive it by giving importance to what is not seen.
Sheena reversed course with KOSAS, standing as a beacon of a movement of liberation from the dogmas of a society that pursues fast as a god to idolize. KOSAS imposes a slow lifestyle, taking care of ourselves with quality essential products…and we are here for it.