After just five minutes of chatting with Rose-Marie Swift, we were completely captivated by this bold and passionate spitfire. Incidental founder of one of the most popular clean beauty brands in the industry right now, her story begins with pretending to be a makeup artist at a young age. Today, RMS Beauty, her namesake brand, has more than 30 products (and counting!) and has cult-followers all over the world. Rose-Marie is a champion for clean, organic beauty — inside and out. Her passion is infectious, and her love for the South runs deep. Without further ado, please meet the lovely Rose-Marie Swift of RMS Beauty, our newest FACE of the South!
How did RMS beauty begin?
I’m from Vancouver, Canada. I was brought up in a very healthy environment. My mother was obsessed with fruits and veggies and healthy food – we even grew a lot of our own. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and I picked up a brush and just pretended I was a makeup artist … I have kind of lucked out on it! It’s not that I wanted to be a makeup artist, I just happen to have a good eye, and it’s paid off. I went over to Paris and London, and I ended up in New York City in 1990. Before I knew it, I was doing makeup full-time and getting big jobs and really big photographers.
During that time, I was traveling so much, and I got very sick. I had a really advanced hair, urine and blood analysis done, and they asked if I worked in the cosmetic industry. They could see so many chemicals in my system. I started studying everything. I started BeautyTruth, exposing truth and facts around the beauty industry and what not to use, so people started asking me what they should use. I looked at the green brands that were out there, and they actually weren’t clean. They had maybe just one clean ingredient. So, I decided to create my own brand. And here I am today. Still pushing my story and still an advocate for clean beauty. I never planned to create a makeup brand, but it was needed.
What was the first product you developed?
Most people think it was the luminizers, but the first product I started with was the eye shadows. I don’t know why I started there, actually. Then came the luminizers and the lip balm. Then, I threw in three “un” cover-up shades. And lip2cheek. And it’s grown from there.
So, you live part-time in Savannah and your headquarters is based in Charleston. Why the South?
Well, at the very beginning, I couldn’t find a lab to make my products because it was all organic. My friend, a chemist in Canada, helped me come up with the formulations. The labs in America at the time didn’t know how to do what I wanted … they always say that I know more about raw ingredients than they do. Charleston had a lab that would take my products. Uniquely, we do all of our own packing and shipping. When you’re doing organic and skincare that’s natural, you have to have temperature-controlled places.
I love Savannah. I like the art students and SCAD and the artistic energy, and my house is right across from the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil house. And Charleston is just beautiful.
Do you see any differences in the way women in the South approach beauty and skincare versus other areas of the country and beyond?
The one thing that I notice is that Southern girls tend to wear a lot of pink lipstick … with a sparkle in it. Maybe even leftover from the ’70s. That’s the one thing – the pink lipstick! It’s retrograde. The South is much more feminine, though, and maybe that’s why.
When it comes to natural skincare versus makeup, do you see a big difference in the adoption?
Skincare has been adopted far more quickly than makeup. People think if they use natural skincare, they are protected. They put on their name-brand makeup, but they don’t realize that it’s counter-intuitive. If you’re eating healthy and using healthy skincare, why would you put on makeup that has undesirable chemicals? People have been brainwashed with the idea that the designers are fail-proof.
We all know by now that a lot of ingredients in cosmetics here have been banned in other countries, but they’re still being freely used in the United States of America. No one is regulating the industry. The fox is guarding the chicken coop.
Aside from your own, are there any brands you recommend when it comes to natural beauty?
I’m a big fan of Japanese brands. They have very stringent testing. Our products are tested like crazy, and we do really well in Japan. It’s hard to get in there. I tend to like their products a lot!
What is your morning routine?
Meditate in the morning. I’ve started doing the celery juice thing. I’ve never had a coffee in my life. I start the day with something raw and healthy like chia seeds and fruit. I do have a weakness for biscuits, though.
What about your beauty routine?
You’re going to die. I literally … do nothing. When I was younger, my mother let me wear eyeliner in the late ’60s. I used olive oil to take my makeup off, and I’d wash it off with water and go to bed. When I was older, I started using coconut oil. I never use soap. I don’t like the feel of it on your skin. I use my face cloth and water. The coconut oil is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal if it’s the right kind, and the cloth exfoliates. The skin produces its own good bacteria, and we’re washing it all off and stripping our skin. Plus, I diet and fast some. Not eating meat is one of the most anti-aging things you can do.
Your newest collection – Savannah Peach – is inspired by Savannah and the South. Tell us a little about your inspiration and how that came to be.
Oh my god, it’s gorgeous! The Savannah set is amazing! It’s the first thing we’ve done like this. They are subtle but glowy.
Do you have one favorite RMS Beauty product?
My baby, the one that I’m most proud of, is my beauty oil. It won one of the top 10 beauty oils in the industry from Japanese Vogue. I did it myself. I use a lot of adaptogenic herbs in it. Instead of putting in synthetic vitamin C, I put in rosehip. Instead of antioxidants, whatever they may be, I put in tamanu oil. What I’ve done is put in oils that have naturally high levels of antioxidants, enzymes and healing properties, rather than their synthetic counterparts typically in cosmetic products.
I like to use it on my body, specifically my legs and ankles. I love putting it on my face and how my skin looks. We’re working on another something stronger for nighttime coming soon. I also love my RMS red lipstick. It’s so good because it’s orange-based, so it looks really flattering on most people.
What are your favorite restaurants in the South?
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and from whom?
“Less is more.” I love that.
Aside from faith, family and friends, what are three things you cannot live without?
My green juices. I can’t live without them. My little dog companion. I snuck Frankie on every single flight – I have to train my dogs to get on the flights with me and sneak on. Finally, I need my reclusiveness. I love being all by myself in my house.
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Rose-Marie! We’re so impressed by the difference you are making. Learn more about RMS Beauty and her products here. And thank you to Leila Grossman of Grannis Photography for the beautiful photos.
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