If you've ever thought natural makeup was boring, you've never heard of Rose Marie Swift. The makeup artist slash green beauty mogul (she's the founder of cult-favourite brand RMS Beauty) is as colourful as her rainbow of frosted pots. "Matte skin doesn't look sexual. Skin has to look sexual," she tells me, before inquiring about my rising sign. She's even brought her psychic sister along to our interview (I make sure to get her card before she leaves).
Based in New York but originally from Vancouver, Swift, 63, has been making celebrities glow, and giving them cosmic advice, for more than a decade. Gisele Bündchen asked her to do Tom Brady's chart when they started dating, Meghan Markle is rumoured to have worn her much-lauded Living Luminizer on her big day, and Hollywood cool girls such as Olivia Wilde and Kate Bosworth regularly wax poetic about her products.
As she goes to work bestowing my face with her signature "can't believe it's highlighter" radiance, I waste no time picking her brain about all things stars and skin (the sexual kind, of course).
You're famous for your luminizers. What makes them so unique?
"That Living Luminizer put me on the map because it looks real. Most [highlighters] are all glittery and shit. When I first started, I had a handful of other luminizers that I'd gotten made, but the lab just didn't get the texture right, so I didn't release them.
I put them in a cupboard and forgot about them. But recently, I was going through my house trying to clean everything and I found them, so I sent them back to the lab and asked them to make the colour really minimal and the texture more refined. As soon as I got them back, I called them up and said 'Is this a new chemist?' and they said, 'Yes,' and I said 'Is she a woman?' and they said, 'Yes, she is.' I knew it! Every single one of them was perfection. That how the other shades were born."
"Some people can contour, but the odds of them doing it properly is about 0.1 per cent, because even the people teaching you on Instagram are all wrong."
What are your application tips for getting that elusive natural glow?
"I like to prep skin with my beauty oil, no silicone primers. I always say you want your skin and your makeup to make love; you can't have a layer of plastic between them, and that's what silicone does. My makeup is skincare with colour, basically. Powders make you look dry and dirty.
The reason I'm so hung up on highlight is because it immediately makes skin look more desirable and inviting. I place the lumiziner on the spots that catch the light when you move. You can even put it down the middle of your legs, on your shoulder blades or on your knuckles. It looks gorgeous when you're out at night, holding a glass of wine. Your hands look beautiful!"
What about contouring?
"Some people can contour, but the odds of them doing it properly is about 0.1 per cent, because even the people teaching you on Instagram are all wrong. They're copying drag queens who want to look really dramatic. I tell people I'd rather see them use a little bronzer and some luminizer to lift the cheekbones instead of drawing on the contour.
It's a fad that's gone a little bit out of control. But if you're going to do it, you want to go right under the cheekbones. Put it on and then wipe it off. That's how it'll look most natural, because you'll just have a little residue left over. That's the best way to go. And never apply blush below the nostrils! It makes you look older."
You've come out with skin-improving probiotic supplements in the U.S. Can we expect to see them in Canada soon?
"Right now, they're still getting through all the legalities needed to be launched in Canada. They're pro-digestive enzymes for the skin. I've been going on and on about the gut and skin link for years, and I kept trying all these probiotics and they all sucked.
Most of them weren't strong enough to get past the stomach acid. Everybody thinks one size fits all and that all probiotics are the same when they're not. When you see an organic product, it doesn't mean that it's good. There are organic ingredients out there that are cheap-ass stuff, and then there are ones that are made by people who really care."
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You've worked with tons of celebrities. What are your clients' favourite products?
"Miranda [Kerr] loves my Lip2Cheek in Beloved. She's always putting that on. Gisele [Bündchen] loves my lip balm. She goes, 'Rosie, where's your Chapstick?' and I go, 'Gisele, for the hundredth millionth time, it's not Chapstick!' Gisele is so funny. I love her, she's my favourite. I remember the first time I ever worked with her she was 14 or 15, and we were doing this catalog shoot. She was sitting there, and I decided to do her chart because I'm also a professional astrologer.
I said, 'Oh my God, Gisele, you are going to be so rich and famous, you have no idea. You better put on a seatbelt!' And she goes, 'Oh no, I don't even speak English!' And of course, she got really, really big. A few years later, I was walking with my friend, and she was on the other side of the street. She saw me and yelled, 'Rosie! I never forgot what you told me. Everything you said is coming true!' And so she brought me in on a bunch of projects, which is one of the reasons I started taking off."