Sheena Zadeh, Founder, Kosas


“I did my undergrad in biology. Pretty much right after graduating college, I had a moment where it became clear to me that my truest desire was to have my own beauty brand. I knew that I had a strong point of view on color, formula, makeup, and the overall approach to beauty because I was everyone’s go-to beauty person growing up. I was the one that you would go to and ask, ‘I’m going somewhere. Can you do my makeup? What lipstick should I buy? How do I do this? What are the steps?’ I ended up going to business school not long after coming to this realization. I graduated during the Great Recession and had a really rough time. I couldn’t find any work, and I still had this love affair with color, so I decided to spend some time doing the one final thing that I hadn’t really gotten a chance to do, which was working with a fine artist in Los Angeles and getting an art education. Then I was at a crossroads and had to ask myself if I wanted to pursue fine art as a career or start this beauty brand that I’d had inside of me for so many years.

I didn’t go into Kosas with a big brand plan or marketing strategy. It started with lipstick. I was always reaching for that ‘your lips but better’ shade, but it was hard with my olive skin tone. I wanted shades that look truly human—not beige, but actual flesh tones. I also wanted to formulate products in a very specific way. I wanted to put those two things together and put it out in the world with so much love and intention. The name of the brand is actually based on the Vedic philosophy of koshas. The word kosha literally translates to sheath in Sanskrit, and according to the philosophy, there are five layers to the self and your essence—your true capital ‘S’ self, not the self that we put out in the world—emanates outward into your appearance. Essentially, beauty is a reflection of who you truly are. And that’s very much the story I want to tell with Kosas. I received a lot of messaging from the beauty industry about covering or fixing myself and that never resonated with me. I think that it’s very natural for us to want to express ourselves to reveal who we truly are. I do actually think we have done that.


I approach skincare really carefully because I have incredibly acne-prone and highly reactive skin. Cleansing is the most important thing to me, especially with all the makeup I wear every day. I double cleanse at night. Bioderma Sensibio H2O is the best micellar water—it can cut through so many layers of makeup. I use it with cotton ovals that are kind of large. That’s really important because they give me a very gentle physical exfoliation. The Paula’s Choice Resist cleanser is very, very light but really thorough without being stripping. It also has ceramides, which are great for your skin barrier. Sometimes I’ll layer on an oil or a balm cleanser, like Living Libations’ Seabuckthorn Best Skin Ever, if I need to triple cleanse.

Angelia Caglia has given me facials before, and she has a really gentle approach to skin. I discovered her Cell Forté serum within the last six months, and it’s remarkable. My skin was more toned and smooth right after the first use. It’s a huge splurge, but it’s made with human stem cells—I use it to the very last drop. It was also love at first sight with Shani Darden’s plumping serum. I quit using traditional moisturizers maybe two or three years ago—I naturally have large pores and quite a bit of texture, and traditional heavier moisturizers were almost enlarging my pores. Once I stepped using them, I saw a lot of improvement. The plumping serum has enough hydration for me with the glycerin and snow mushroom. Honestly though, I’ll use it maybe once a week. And I use Joanna Czech’s C+ serum maybe twice a month because it can be really sensitizing for me. Twice is enough for my skin to get the brightening effect that I want. The serum that I do use regularly is our Kosas Plump + Juicy serum. I formulated it for my own skin type. If I ever see anyone with an active breakout, I’m like, ‘Quit everything, only double cleanse and use our serum spray.’ That’s my take—and it works. It has artemisia flower extract, which is highly soothing, peptides for healing, and probiotics to support your skin’s microbiome. And I only recently started using eye cream. I never thought the day would come; It’s almost like you don’t know you’re going to age until it happens. I’ve been using Relevant Beauty’s Beam + Glow eye serum. It’s not heavy or greasy like other eye creams I’ve tried, which gave me milia.


If I had to go to a deserted island, I would take the Kosas DreamBeam sunscreen with me. It has 21.7% zinc. I formulated it when I put my daughter in surf camp over the summer. They wouldn’t let her go in the water unless her face was completely covered in zinc; if you want to know what works, ask a surfer. They wouldn’t accept other kinds of sunscreen—and they were even specific about which zinc-based sunscreens the kids used because it had to have a specific concentration of zinc. Zinc is tough because it’s very white, so it almost reflects a blue purple on your skin. We added a peachy-pink hue to neutralize that to an extent, and it’s certainly minimized, but it’s not going to completely disappear. It’s a great base for makeup. Honestly, I never wore sunscreen before DreamBeam, even though it’s the one thing that you’re supposed to wear. It broke me out and it made my makeup look bad, so I just wouldn’t. DreamBeam really hits all of my criteria: It feels good, it works well under makeup, and it does not cause any breakouts.

And then I love my Nuface. Whenever I’m consistent with it—if I actually use it two or three days a week for even five or 10 minutes—it feels like my face is getting a workout. I have been wanting to get a Ziip because of the different face exercises on their app. I love the founder, Melanie Simon. Speaking of face workouts, I love FaceGym. I feel like I can never get a deep enough face massage, and this is the one place where they’re fully dedicated to it. There are so many muscles in our faces and we carry so much tension. There’s one close to my house, so I’ve started going once a month. The last time I went, I did a cryo treatment and loved it. I was so smooth and bright for weeks after.

After sunscreen, I do one pump of BB Burst in Medium Warm 24 all over. Then I add on a second later—I very strongly believe in working in multiple thin layers. I use our concealer in 3.8 under my eyes. I’m always after plumpness and lift for my overall look, and concealer is definitely a part of shaping that antigravity. [Laughs] I use quite a bit of Cloud Set setting powder in Feathery and Comfy because it gives you this beautiful filter without flattening your face. Then I use a huge amount of Sun Show bronzer in Beachy because I can also sculpt and lift with it.


For my brows, I do either two or three steps. I use Brow Pop Nano in Dark Brown and feather the top of the tail of my brow because that also creates a bit of a lift. I leave the front of my brow completely naked to prevent boxiness. Then I use Air Brow gel in Medium Brown mostly on the tail end of my brow and Air Brow in Clear on the front part so it doesn’t look heavy.

I started wearing eyeshadow a year and a half ago, and it’s been life-changing for me. I believe very strongly in maximizing every feature, and for many years, I wasn’t doing that. I wasn’t allowing myself the time to concentrate on my eyes, and I was also afraid of looking too much, so eyeshadow scared me. But when I started using the Undressed palette, I felt like I was finally maximizing all of my real estate. That’s how I felt about my lips, too. Right now, my obsession is our Wet Sticks. They have a beautiful balm-y texture. I have several favorite shades, including 100 Degrees, and I grab one depending on how I feel. Then of course, I always have a LipFuel in Baseline around.

I regularly get a cut and color from Tauni Dawson. That’s the basis for everything. I wash my hair every two to three days, and I only use Davines MOMO shampoo and Heart of Glass conditioner. I’m so minimal with hair products because my hair gets weighed down easily, and I also have acne-prone body skin, which most hair products exacerbate. I use a Dyson hair dryer to blow it out, and I do a soft wave with the T3 Curl X 1.5” curling iron.

Brittany Boyce of Nails of LA has completely changed my relationship with my nails. She gives me a builder gel manicure in her signature almond shape. It’s so flattering and makes me feel so feminine. I instantly feel more put together when I have my nails done, so I’m religious about it. It’s bizarre because getting the manicure is not that short of a process—it’s like two hours every time. I tend to go towards more neutral shades, usually some variation of white, pink, or a beige that matches my skin tone. When I feel like having color, Brittany lets me mix my own shade. It’s so fun. I love a very specific red with just the right amount of fuschia or orange. Then one of my favorite tricks is to put a matte coat on top. Something about a matte reddish fuchsia nail is very powerful.


I am obsessed with the scent of leather, sandalwood, vanilla, and tobacco. My dad had pipes growing up, and I have a very strong childhood memory of going into his room just for the smell. Also, if I close my eyes and smell sandalwood, I swear to God I go to another realm. I only started wearing fragrance again because I discovered Sunlit Blooms from DedCool. I’m obsessed with it. It has a sort of grounded sweetness, but it’s not sugary sweet. It smells like if you go under sheets and you see the sunlight coming through, like the feeling of being in love. I recently got Haunted Rose from Future Society. The premise of the company is really cool. They sequence the DNA of extinct flowers to create scents. That drew me in, but a story is never enough. It really has to smell good, too, and when I picked it up, it kind of hit at the heart. I normally can’t stand much in the way of florals, but it has a good balance.

I also really love the smell of amber, and Sacred + Divine has a 333 candle that’s beautiful. And I love the packaging of the Diptyque Baies candle. It’s an all-black vessel, and it gives me such joy. It’s very soft and never overwhelming. I keep it in my bedroom.”

—As told to Daise Bedolla

Photographed by Brittany Bravo in Los Angeles on April 5, 2024