One of the world’s highest paid supermodels, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has inspired millions of women around the world. From launching her own namesake beauty website, Rose Inc, to becoming the face of cruelty-free brand Hourglass Cosmetics, she speaks to us from lockdown at her home in Los Angeles.
How have you been dealing with the pandemic?
My family and I have been in quarantine for, I’ve lost count of how many weeks. We’re good. I can’t complain. I’m really lucky I’m able to do a lot of my projects and work commitments from home. My son is just about to turn three so despite having a toddler, which is always a challenge for any parent, I’m not having to tackle the challenge of homeschooling. I’ve been trying to look at the positives for myself, which have been to connect with my family and spend good quality time together at home, which is what we’ve done. In general, we’re in uncertain times and I have a lot of compassion and empathy for a lot of people out there. It’s worrying times for many people.
How are you looking after your mental health?
I’ve been working out a few times a week. Exercise for me has always been a really big stress reliever. I’ve turned my garage into a makeshift gym. I’ve cleared it out, parked the cars out on the street and we’ve been working out in the gym. I’ve been using the Body By Simone app, it’s the workout class I normally go out to. A lot of my friends have been doing Ryan Heffington Dance Nation, which I’ve started following, so I might give that a go.
I’ve also been using the time to connect with a lot of people who I haven’t spoken to in a long time. It was my birthday a couple of days ago so all of my friends organized a big Zoom call. I’ve been reading a lot, which is fantastic because I love to read, but often don’t find the time to do it. I also want to keep informed of what’s going on but don’t want to overwhelm myself with too much information. I look at the news in the morning and read some articles and then the TVs are off most of the day in the house.
What has been your biggest lesson during this time so far?
What’s been prominent to me and it’s not because I wasn’t aware of it before, but it certainly made me realize having this pause on my life how manic and chaotic my life can be day to day and how there’s a lack of routine. While I love and thrive on being busy and love being out and about and go go go, it made me realize after having six weeks of really just being at home, not being on vacation, still sort of working, it made me realize how chaotic things can be day to day.
It made me look at my priorities and I look forward and think, how are things going to go back? How is our approach to things going to be different? What is my work going to look like every day? How is this going to impact the environment in a positive way? What are some of the positive changes we can make individually and together as humanity? Those are big questions.
It’s been great in the evenings to talk about that with Jason [Statham] and talk to friends about it and the things we would like to cut away from our existing lives when everything gets back to normal.
What is your first memory of beauty?
My first few memories of beauty were of watching my mother getting ready for work or going out in the evening. I would creep into her bedroom and she would always allow me to sit there and watch her get ready if I was silent. I would sit on the edge of the bed gingerly and observe her applying her makeup. It was such a glamorous ritual to observe. She would go from being my mother to this whole other identity and I would see how it would boost her confidence or change the way she felt.
My own personal memories of makeup would be me saving up my pocket money and heading down to the local pharmacy to buy glittery blue eyeshadows and cakey tube concealers. Learning how to apply them and overplucking my eyebrows, all of those kinds of things when you’re a teenager. Frosty pink lipstick… It was the 90s, so…
Tell us about your modeling career and the best beauty lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I was 16 when I started modeling. I had interned at an agency in London. I’d always wanted to work in fashion as a young teenager. I was always drawn to fashion magazines, I was always drawn to what happened behind the scenes to create these beautiful images. I always had a desire to be backstage rather than at the front of the stage. I wanted to be part of the creative process. At 15 you had to go and do work experience, I wrote to a ton of different places in London. Having grown up in Devon I had no contacts within the fashion industry. I had a great time and loved being in London.
After finishing my GCSEs I went back to London for a week with a friend. It was a big deal after growing up in the rural countryside. I knew I wanted to apply to the London College of Fashion at the time. I remember my mother saying, “Well, you better go in and see the people at the agency. It’s not what you know but who you know in fashion.” One of her many pieces of shrewd advice over the years. There was a new agent at the time and she asked me if she could take some polaroids. She didn’t know what the outcome would be, but would I like to go on a couple of castings? At 16 I pounded the pavement for many years and my career started in London.
The best beauty advice I’ve heard over the years and hear repetitively is to always wear SPF, find your signature look, find the colors that work for you, and take care of your skin. You will hear this time and time again from the experts I’ve been lucky enough to work with.
Why did you decide to focus on beauty and launch Rose Inc?
I felt like I had a very unique point of view within the beauty industry, having spent 16 years in the hair and makeup chair, and countless hours working with all of these different experts and artists. I found when I looked back on my career, that’s where many of my favorite memories are. I’ve always loved this moment of transformation and learning about new products. How can I better my skin? I’ve struggled with acne for most of my adult life and so I always loved products, brands. They were like collector’s items for me.
There’s something about the ritual of applying makeup. I felt like I had a unique point of view. I’m not a makeup artist who has honed in on a particular skill, or an expert. I’ve had the opportunity to work with all of them over the years. It’s like this unique point of view and connection to the industry where I’ve had the greatest work experience getting to learn from the best of the best in the industry.
As I was getting older I found people would ask me beauty related questions, whether it was my mom, a girlfriend, a journalist, or somebody I bumped into or met on the street. I wanted to start a community talking about a passion of mine and feeling like I could connect with people and share the information I was receiving day to day. Fashion for me still has a lot of no-entry barriers, there’s always a point where not everybody can afford the luxury fashion houses but I always feel with beauty, that most people can enter into a beauty brand and feel like they can purchase something. It’s quite universal in that way.
How has your attitude towards beauty changed since becoming a mother?
It’s changed in the sense that I have less time to get ready in the mornings and I don’t care as much. I think in general that sort of applies to everything. I mean it in the best possible way, it sounds sort of dismissive but things that bothered me before don’t bother me as much, they run off my back a bit easier than before I had a child. Being a mom, a lot of things get put into perspective and you don’t have a lot of time to sweat the small stuff in the same way. My attitudes changed in the way that, if I have a spot, it’s not the end of the world, it is just a spot and it’s going to go. I turned 33 on Saturday and I’m aware things are changing. I try to embrace it all and make the best of myself and feel grateful for that.
Do you worry about aging or do you embrace it?
I’m 33 so it’s inevitable. You’re going to age and to be honest, the more I think about aging, the more I think it’s a privilege to age. There’s a lot of sickness in the world and a lot of people with struggles, a lot of people we lose far too early in life. I feel that for every year I get older, I feel more confident, feel more of myself, I’m more aware of myself, more aware of what I like. My mind is so much broader than it was 10 years ago. I feel like I have so much more appetite for life and what it has to offer than I did 10 years ago. I think there’s something really beautiful about that. Sure, the wrinkles are going to come, things are going to sag, it’s inevitable and there’s nothing we can do about it. It is what it is. You’ve just got to embrace it, look forward, and take the focus off it.
Why did you decide to work with Hourglass?
It was a no-brainer for me. I’ve been a fan of Hourglass products for more than seven years. I was first introduced to them through a makeup artist. They applied the Ambient Lighting Powder Bronzer on me and I just remember picking up the product and thinking, what is this? It’s such an amazing product, the packaging is beautiful. So, the next day I went out and purchased some of the products myself and I’ve just been a fan ever since.
I would talk about Hourglass and promote it in a very natural way when people were asking me what I was using. I encouraged all of my makeup artists to use it and purchase it. When I started Rose Inc I would talk about it when I was doing tutorials. Hourglass and I ended up connecting and I met Carisa Janes, the founder, and we found we had a lot in common. Carisa has been a wonderful mentor to me over the last few years. She has a wealth of knowledge and is a true businesswoman in every sense of the word, she is incredibly creative, and gives so much integrity to the brand.
We started by doing some small projects on the site and then it grew, where I became the face and spokesperson for the brand. It’s such a huge privilege and so much fun to work for a brand when you are truly its number one fan. It’s so effortless and easy and everything we do and everything we shoot is so elevated and tastefully done. I also get to try all of the products first-hand before anyone else, which is the ultimate fun part.
What are your go-to Hourglass products?
Hourglass is most famous for its powder so the Ambient Lighting Palette is what I always recommend to people who aren’t familiar with the brand. It’s such a brilliant universal palette for everyone, I always have it in my handbag and touch up with the palette throughout the day. It just gives this really soft, filter-like effect to the skin. I’m a bronzer girl so I love Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzers – they have that signature marble effect.
After them, my favorite product is Vanish Airbrush Concealer which launched in January. It’s phenomenal, it’s like no other concealer I’ve ever used before. I’ve not used foundation since it launched, it’s all I use. A little bit goes a long way. It stretches beautifully across the skin and gives me just the right amount of coverage and the pigment in it – it’s not a creamy finish or a matte finish, it’s this beautiful satin, skin-like finish. It’s got incredible coverage to it. I’ve seen how my skin has transformed by not having thick and heavy makeup on every day.
My final product, it’s hard to choose but the Confession Lipsticks. They are such beautiful formulations, really high pigment. One swipe across the lip and you’ve got this beautiful dense color. Hourglass and I collaborated and created my signature Confession shade which is called You Make Me and is this unique terracotta nude. The team sent over 10 colors for me to look at and I just fell in love with this shade when I wore it. I wouldn’t naturally be drawn to it. I tend to stick towards the florally nude colors, but when I wore it, I got several compliments throughout the day and just found it to be a unique shade, hopefully universal. The packaging is just phenomenal, it’s the refillable spike packaging. It’s almost like an heirloom, a keepsake product you would feel proud whipping out from your handbag at a dinner party and applying.
How important is clean beauty to you?
The more I become familiar with it, the more important it becomes. I certainly always look for brands that stand for more than just beauty products and I think that’s why I feel so proud to work with Hourglass. The cruelty-free aspect is something so incredibly meaningful to Carisa and the team and it just goes beyond pretty products. It has a message, it stands for something.