RMS Beauty founder Rose-Marie Swift on approaching skin care from the inside out and why she believes less is more
By Rakhee Bhatt
With over 30 years of experience as a makeup artist to such celebrities as Gisele Bündchen, Miranda Kerr, and Tilda Swinton—as well as having her work featured in magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle—it’s safe to say that Rose-Marie Swift knows more than a thing or two about beauty…and its shortcomings.
“After all those years working with fashion and makeup, I’ve learned a lot about the impact of daily exposure to chemicals in beauty care products,” Swift tells us. “I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t live up to its promises. I see the results of taking a quick-fix approach to looking good.”
Out of those experiences, Swift had her proverbial “aha!” moment when she realized that cosmetics could be made with ingredients that were of better quality and safer to use. Launched in 2009, RMS Beauty (which are Swift’s initials but also stands for “Real Makeup Secrets” and “Right Mental State”) was launched with a focus on setting higher standards for beauty products while simultaneously making them beautiful and able to go the distance on photo shoots, runway shows, and everyday life.
“When I created RMS Beauty, I wasn’t focused on being the most successful brand out there,” says Swift. “I just wanted to create a brand that was healthy and had integrity.”
Formulated using raw, food grade, organic, wildcrafted, and natural ingredients, RMS Beauty’s products nourish and enhance the skin, helping to bring out that inner glow. The brand’s products are also designed to be applied using your fingers, as the warmth can soften the items and make them easier to blend onto the skin. Another bonus with this touch method is that it works like acupressure, stimulating blood flow, thereby encouraging skin cell regeneration and turnover.
Though she’s been running her business for over 13 years, Swift’s affinity for nature was ingrained from an early age.
“My two younger sisters and I were brought up in a very green environment, close to the
mountains and the oceans with fresh, clean air,” shares Swift. “We were taught about respect for the environment, and there was always a focus on health. We learned to grow and prepare our own food, so good eating habits were ingrained early and they’ve stuck with me throughout my life.”
Here, Swift shares her tried-and-true makeup technique, why she believes that healthy skin starts with the gut, and her thoughts on the ever-changing landscape of the beauty industry.
Get to know — Rose-Marie Swift
What was the impetus to start your brand?
I know first-hand the price our health can pay in the pursuit of beauty. I realized the need for skin care and color cosmetics that are as pure as possible, and that create a solid foundation for anti-aging and long-term beauty. At the time, I had no real choice but to create a brand myself, applying the highest standard for clean beauty. Now the whole world is embracing the movement and I am so happy that my brand is one of the pioneers.
Do you have a beauty philosophy? What is it?
I have always believed in the “less is more" philosophy of application, so my makeup technique has been light and ethereal ever since the beginning. For me, it’s all about luminosity and letting the skin show through, rather than covering it up. Adding visual impact would be something like a pop of color to the lips or a luminous bold blush to the cheek—the simple things that always look sophisticated and fashion forward.
Where are you from originally? Where do you live now?
I was born in North Vancouver, Canada. In my twenties, my makeup journey took me from Vancouver to Toronto where I was kept tremendously busy, but career-wise it wasn’t enough to completely fulfill my creative desires. So from there I went to Europe and lived in Hamburg, Paris, Berlin, and London, and escaped to Miami during the cold months. Today, my home is in Savannah, Georgia, but I continue to frequent NYC.
What are some early beauty influences?
I was exposed to fashion and beauty at a very young age because my mother was a fashion designer. She specialized in custom wedding and evening gowns, and she was very well-known among the wealthy ladies in Vancouver. As a little girl, I was obsessed with my mother’s red lipstick tube and her powder with the white marabou feathers overflowing from the jar, always sitting on her vanity—I think that was formative for me as a self-taught makeup artist. And then, of course, traveling in my youth also opened up my creative inspiration. When I started working with photographers, models, designers, and creative directors in my 20s, it opened up a whole new avenue of creative thinking for me and for what ultimately became my clean beauty mission.
What does self-care look like in your life?
It’s just simple, healthy, consistent, and timeless. First of all, I firmly believe that healthy eating and drinking habits are the most effective beauty routines…period. Needless to say, I’m a total organic, raw, green juice junkie. Also, I like to say, “your skin is a mirror to your gut.” A healthy gut is vital for feeling good and it really results in beautiful, healthy, glowing skin. Also, never forget probiotics, which are a must for me. I don’t go a day without my RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream. I use it at night to cleanse my skin and remove all traces of my makeup. I add a little to my bath water, too. It’s the easiest way to moisturize my skin, plus it just feels so, so good. You can even take it internally, or use it as a toothpaste in a pinch. Then I always apply my RMS Beauty Oil as a serum at night—it’s the most beautiful, skin-friendly combination of precious oils and adaptogenic herbs. And that’s it! I mean, I love a good spa treatment as much as anyone else, but on a day-to-day basis this is my routine and always has been.
What inspires you most about the beauty landscape today?
I'm always inspired by other artists and the various makeup techniques that I see people doing. But the main thing that’s exciting to me these days is the shift in people’s attitudes toward caring for their overall wellness, as well as the condition of the planet. I hope everyone keeps this momentum going and continues to embrace the clean beauty industry. Finally, I’m not just out here on my own!
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
Biggest challenge hands down, at that time, was the cosmetic manufacturing labs. They really weren’t versed on “naturals”—let alone organics—when it came to color cosmetics. Many of the chemists and owners of these labs told me this couldn’t be done. It’s only in the last few years that major strides have been made in the clean beauty color arena. I truly believe that if I hadn’t had my own formulas to start with based on organic creams—skin care meets mineral color—the labs would have led me down the powdered mineral path, which was the closest you could find to a clean beauty brand concept at that time. But I didn’t want to be yet another powdered mineral brand. I had to really challenge the labs to work with the ingredients and open their minds away from “Beauty Chemistry 101” brainwashing. Yes, some labs even fired me. Best thing that ever happened.
What has been the biggest win thus far?
Creating a line that is for all genders, all skin types, and all hues where people see a beneficial difference in their skincare is the biggest win.
What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry when it comes to diversity and inclusivity?
The beauty industry needs to continue to include, promote, and hire equally in every aspect of beauty —from cosmetic chemists, manufacturers, distributors, marketers, advertisers, influencers, and proprietors. It’s important that the industry reflects the diversity we are celebrating.