Swift has collaborated with every top photographer, and her editorial work has appeared in zillions of magazines— W, i-D, Interview, and various editions of Vogue. She founded RMS after experiencing health issues and subsequently embracing an all-natural lifestyle—appropriately, RMS is free of toxic chemicals and feels like something of a virtuous purchase. Swift has made it a mission to inform women about the possible dangers lurking in their medicine cabinets; her website Beauty Truth outlines harmful ingredients to look out for. We spoke to her about the intersection of health and beauty, the all-pervasiveness of contouring, and my beloved luminizer.
Could you tell me about how you got started as a makeup artist? And how you eventually began RMS?
During my teens my sister trained as an aesthetician, and she suggested that I should be a makeup artist. I had a great eye and had done a little modeling, so the idea was intriguing. We teamed up with a hotel mogul that had burlesque clubs in his hotels (remember, this was the 70’s) and we went and worked on the dancers’ skin and makeup. I approached a label-free cosmetic lab to supply product to me, which I in turn sold to the dancers. The word got out, and it expanded from working with dancers to working with models. One day, the local makeup artist wasn’t in town, so I got asked to make up a famous European model for the cover of our local fashion magazine, Vancouver Magazine. That cover turned out beautiful, and that was the start of my career as a makeup artist. I traveled from Vancouver to Toronto, working almost every day. Eventually I hit Europe, and then finally New York. I became an advocate for cleaner cosmetics when my own health deteriorated years ago, and through my research I discovered that many of the chemicals in my body were also rampant in beauty products.
I started studying ingredient labels and learned the extent of unregulated chemical ingredient use. In fact, many ingredients use in beauty and body products are downright harmful. Having worked so long in the beauty industry, I’ve seen the results of taking a quick-fix approach to looking good, and I know firsthand the price our health can pay in the pursuit of beauty. I realized that what women need is skin care, color cosmetics and toiletries that are as pure as possible – lines that create a solid foundation for anti-aging and long-term beauty. We now know that what we put on the skin can be absorbed, and in some circumstances, it's absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Why are we taking chances with this?
I realized I had to create something that breaks away from traditional cosmetics on the market, as well as the pack of so-called natural cosmetics that are already available. I founded RMS Beauty a few years ago and formulate my products with raw, food grade and organic ingredients in their natural state, allowing their living, healing attributes to penetrate and rejuvenate the skin. In their purest form, the healing properties of natural enzymes, vitamins and antioxidants remain fully intact, encouraging amazing potential for anti-aging effects.
Your Living Luminizer is the stuff of legend (it's seriously the best product I have ever used). How did you develop it, and what other products do you see as the essential, holy grail RMS items?
The Living Luminizer took some time as it was hard to get that perfect luminous glow without the glitter and white residue. It also has to remain moist on the skin and not dry up in any fine lines. It worked and that put RMS Beauty on the map. My other must-haves are the RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-up (the best concealer/foundation product ever, if I do say so myself) and of course the Raw Coconut Cream. The worst thing ever is to go to bed with your makeup on, so this product pretty much does it all—it removes makeup, cleanses, moisturizes, and works for tons of other things.
You're known for a healthy lifestyle. What foods do you most recommend for glowing skin? And what are the worst food enemies of glowing skin?
I’m a firm believer that your skin is a mirror to your gut. So what’s going on in your gut is going to show on your face. I always suggest drinking tons of pure water and green juices. Eat healthy, meaning no processed food, no sugar and never any artificial sweeteners. No smoking, no soda pop. Basically fruit and vegetables and limited meat. When I see bad skin, I say Probiotics, Probiotics, Probiotics.
Are there any particular editorials or shoots of which you are the most proud?
My very first huge job with major impact on my career was with Mario Sorrenti. It was a 20-page beauty story for Self Service with all the supermodels, and the story was beautiful. That story, to this day, is my favorite story ever. Makeup jobs definitely came much easier after that association, and I have had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in the industry.
How would you describe your aesthetic when it comes to makeup?
Less is more for sure, and I love dewy, light-reflective, sensual skin. Nothing beats that.
I've read a number of interviews where you've spoken about Instagram and how it's affected trends and the beauty industry at large. What's the worst trend you've seen on Instagram? Or the worst makeup trend generally?
All of it! My worst turnoff is the amount of cosmetics layered over and over onto the face. It is just too much makeup for the skin, period. Another is contouring, or “face beating,” as they call it.
If you could only use one product for the rest of your life, what would it be?
My Raw Coconut Cream can honestly be called the best makeup remover and facial cleanser ever. It wipes away the most stubborn mascara with ease. This natural antioxidant is 100% pure, raw and unrefined, aiding in its protective powers against free radical damage — otherwise known as premature aging. Coconut oil contains high levels of lauric acid, which has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, making it suitable for even the most blemish-prone skin. It’s great for cleansing the skin and as a moisturizer, a hair conditioner, for cooking, adding to the bath, relieving any skin irritation and taking internally (coconut oil’s uses are endless). But store bought oil isn’t equal to ours.