Rosie Huntington Whiteley on the power of makeup for confidence, career and creativity

After 16 years as a model (“it’s nuts to me to think that I’ve been working as long as that!”) Rosie Huntington Whiteley has transcended beyond the traditional definitions of a model to become a beauty ambassador—she’s here in Sydney for BareMinerals and MECCA—and more.

As a model, business woman and mother, getting ready and putting on makeup is, as Huntington Whiteley puts it, “a few minutes that I have to myself—I love that time, it’s a particularly creative time for me,” she says. “Like all mums, you have less time for yourself—that’s fine, you make it work.” She shares with MECCA how the beauty industry has become her creative outlet both in her career and personally, and how it helps with her confidence.

How Huntington Whiteley learnt about beauty

“Beauty is where I really felt that I had a unique point of view, that not a lot of people get, from having spent 16 years in the hair and makeup chair,” says the British born model, who is more composed than the average person walking off a long-haul flight—of course. “As a model, I worked with artists from all over the globe, some of the best, some of the worst. I’d almost had this internship that no makeup artist could ever have.” Makeup artists would even ask her about the techniques of their peers. “It was so funny!” she says with a laugh, because even from Huntington Whiteley’s experience, whether you were a professional or beauty novice at home, everyone wanted to find out more—the tips and tricks of other makeup users.

But even before becoming a model, Huntington Whiteley had ambitions to work in the behind-the-scenes of the fashion and beauty worlds, signing up for work experience at a modelling agency when in high school. (A few months later, she was successfully scouted… and we know how that story ends.) So when she finally became a model, she made most of her experience to add he made the most of her time as a model, even from the beginning. “As a model, I’ve been able to cultivate a lot of knowledge and pick up everything I know about beauty from it. I always ask questions, I look at product and try everything out.”

Making the most of her modelling career

“If somebody had told me when I was a teenager what I would be doing now, I really wouldn’t have believed them. It definitely feels like I’m exactly where I dreamt of being,” says Huntington Whiteley to The Memo when I ask her to imagine what a young Rosie would think of her life now. “At that age, I would save my pocket money to buy my first beauty products. I would creep into my mum’s bedroom and watch her get ready for work and a night out, and steal her beauty products.”

While she is one of the world’s most recognised models today, the earlier days of Huntington Whiteley’s career were less glamorous. “When I started working as a model, it felt like I would be the canvas for everybody else to do their work; it wasn’t a collaborative environment. For many years, I struggled with that and found it very unfulfilling,” she explains. “Often, you’re turning up to sets in all different locations around the world and they’re not speaking your language so it’s quite lonely. I knew that I wanted to use the platform of modelling and build it into something else for myself beyond that.” Coupled with her long-held interest in the behind-the-scenes side of the industry, Huntington Whiteley began exploring opportunities beyond modelling.

“I’ve always felt that modelling was going to be a short-lived career,” she says adamantly—though, comparatively Huntington Whiteley’s career has lasted longer than most other models, thanks to a business acumen that has seen her collaborate on clothing and more. “Over time I started to see opportunities for myself and I’ve always been proactive in my approach to my work. I’ve never been comfortable sitting around waiting for the phone or waiting for other people to make decisions for me. I believe in being proactive, being ambitious and having goals.”

Starting her beauty platform, Rose Inc, felt to Huntington Whiteley, “like my whole career had led me to that point.” She came with the idea from noticing her friends and followers respond immediately to what she had to say about beauty. “I started to share more beauty-related things on social media and I saw a big appetite for it when I was doing interviews, and my girlfriends would text me to ask about products.” She realised that like those makeup artists asking about tips she had picked up from other artists, everyone wanted to know more.

The multi-hypenate and makeup fan on what natural beauty means

“I’m always drawn to enhancing what you have rather than masking. I love a lot of colour, texture and playing. When you say ‘natural beauty’, people always think you wear hardly any makeup which is definitely not me. I wear a lot of makeup and I’m not afraid to say that and I love it, but I think it’s done in a way that has a more natural finish,” she says of her approach to beauty. Even before working with BareMinerals, she was a long-time fan of their Loose Foundation Powder. “It’s my dream lazy girl makeup for somebody that is on the go. I was surprised when I used it for the first time. I thought, ‘how is a powder going to give me coverage? It’ll probably make me look really dry’ and it just has the most luminous finish and incredible coverage, while being so quick and easy to use. I find myself going back to it and thinking, ‘This is such a great product and everybody should have it,’” she says. “It’s my all-time favourite BareMinerals product.”

Huntington-Whiteley on makeup and confidence

“I’ve had my makeup done by so many different artists. Some of them are too heavy handed for me and I don’t feel like myself and sometimes it’s too natural and I don’t feel confident enough. Confidence is twofold; it starts within, with the relationship you have with yourself, and I’m sorry, but you can’t fault the power of a great lip! For me, one doesn’t go without the other. I feel like I sit right in that middle place—just a regular woman wanting to have great beauty product and feel my best.”

I’ve met so many beautiful women from all over the world and sometimes they don’t feel so confidence. Confidence isn’t something you wake up with and then feel for the rest of your life, there’s ebbs and flows. For me, getting dressed, putting on my makeup, it’s the process of me feeling like I’m putting my best self forward and walking out into the world feeling like I’m ready to face the world.”

Words by Zara Wong


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