Rose-Marie Swift on Natural Beauty, Bold Lips and Why “Instagram Makeup” is Out

The Vancouver-born makeup artist and founder of RMS Beauty says that "robot skin" was never en vogue.  

May 29, 2019

By Lucy Lau / Photo: Dermstore

Celebrity makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift isn’t one to mince words. In a 20-minute conversation with VanMag during a recent visit to Vancouver, the Vancouver-born and New York City-based clean-cosmetics magnate is quick to tell us how she really feels about the beauty industry (“There’s a reason a lot of cosmetics are so cheap. That shit is not good for you!”) and the beauty trends that are en vogue today (“That god-dong Instagram makeup looks good on no one”). In fact, it’s these unfiltered thoughts—well, that first one, anyway—that led her to found RMS Beauty, a green, cruelty-free line of powders, concealers, multi-tasking cheek stains and more that, since its launch in 2009, has drawn fans such as Gisele Bündchen, Olivia Wilde and Meghan Markle.

In a homecoming with VanMag (one of Swift’s first gigs as a professional makeup artist was with the magazine in the ’70s, when she had the chance to create what she recalls as an “all-pink” look for a cover model) and ahead of the launch of RMS Beauty’s summer collection, which will include an all-natural dupe for Nars’s Orgasm blush (!), Swift shares her tips for transitioning to a natural beauty regimen, the products she can’t live without and why exactly “Instagram makeup” is out.

Rose-Marie Swift, founder of RMS Beauty.

These days, “natural” is a big buzzword in the beauty industry. What should people look for to ensure that the cosmetics they consume are actually good for them?

That’s really hard, actually, because there’s no legal definition of the word “natural.” It depends on what store you go into or what brands you look at. Some labels will say “green,” some will say “natural,” some will say “clean.” But don’t look at the little lies that are written on the front of the packaging; look at the ingredients and research what’s listed there. If you’re seeing all these tongue-twisting words and are second-guessing a lot of it, that’s a bad sign. You want to see things you can pronounce: pure, organic, healthy ingredients. Avoid chemicals like parabens, sulfates, phthalates and synthetic fragrance.

What are your tips for someone who is interested in transitioning to a natural beauty routine, but doesn’t know where to start?

Your skin is your largest organ, so whatever you put on it—cleansers, moisturizers and sunscreens—are going to be absorbed into it and your body. So that’s a good place to start: get healthier versions of whatever products you’re putting on your skin. The second-most important thing is to swap out anything you’re using on your lips. Because whatever you’re putting there is going to be, to some degree, ingested. And if you think that all your lipsticks are pure, you’re in for a surprise: a lot of them have heavy metals and iffy chemicals in them. Eventually, you can graduate to finding healthier foundations, powders and eye makeup. Because once you have a clean skincare regimen, why put all these chemical-laden cosmetics on your skin?

RMS Beauty Swift Eyeshadow Trio, $26

What are some beauty products you can’t live without?

My beauty oil. I love it because I use it for everything: as a moisturizer, as a brightener, as a general pick-me-up. I also love my raw coconut cream because it’s great for makeup removal, rashes, oil pulling—you name it. And it doesn’t clog your pores.

You’ve worked as a makeup artist around the world, including in places like London, Paris and New York City. How would you say Vancouver’s beauty aesthetic compares to that of other cities?

First of all, Canadian women are beautiful. Especially in Vancouver, where I find the people to be a lot more health-conscious and open to learning about greener, cleaner alternatives to food, makeup and whatever it may be. They’re beautiful and they don’t wear a ton of makeup because, really, they don’t need it. They have more of a natural, laid-back look going on. It’s not like you smack them on the back of the head and a full face of makeup comes flying off onto the pavement.

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer, $38

What are some summer beauty trends you’re looking forward to seeing?

Beautiful, sensuous skin that kind of shines through the makeup and looks super natural. That paired with bright pop of colour on the mouth. There’s something really nice about that—having this gorgeous skin paired with a bold red, pink or coral lip. I don’t think it’s about that god-dong Instagram makeup at all; in fact, that never looks good when you’re not in front of a camera. I’m more about having a healthy, sun-kissed glow and just a light dusting of highlighter—not so much that it’s like you’re reflecting the moon. No robot skin, that’s out. Robot skin is out!

What are some beauty brands that you admire?

I love the Japanese labels—Shu Uemura, Clé de Peau. The products are simple, and they do what they say they’ll do. I also love the packaging—actually, some of the RMS packaging is inspired by Japanese brands.

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