After two decades working in the beauty industry and being exposed to the chemicals within the products she used, Rose-Marie Swift began experiencing a myriad of illnesses. The ailments presented themselves in multiple ways, including some alarming levels of heavy metals within her blood, hormone imbalance, and the loss of her hair. Instead of finding a new career, however, Swift dug deep into the cosmetic industry and began developing vegan, animal-cruelty-free products made with pure ingredients—that still delivered professional results. The outcome is her eponymous label, RMS Beauty, founded in 2008 and beloved by famous faces including Miranda Kerr and Gisele Bundchen. Funnily enough, makeup was not always the path that Swift saw herself on. “I actually never wanted to be a makeup artist,” she admits. “It completely fell into my lap. When I was in my late teens, my sister decided to become an esthetician, and she decided I should become a makeup artist. I loved fashion and beauty. I had an eye, I could fake it—and I did. I picked up a brush, and off I went.”
The majority of RMS Beauty offerings (available in Vancouver at boutiques including Blubird and BeautyMark) have a cream consistency; this enables the lip, cheek, and complexion products to blend into the skin as opposed to sit on top of it. Raw, virgin, organic coconut oil forms the base of these cream cosmetics, feeding the skin while providing coverage, definition, and colour. By extracting it without the use of chemicals or heat, the oil retains all of the beneficial properties that have brought it into the health food spotlight. Coconut oil is also known for its anti-bacterial ability, making RMS Beauty products beneficial for people with skin issues such as acne.
While RMS Beauty is cosmetic-forward, the line also features skin care products, including lip balm, makeup removing towelettes, and The Beauty Oil, which is a concoction of hydrating ingredients like jojoba seed oil, rosehip seed oil, and olive leaf to replenish the skin. Swift also manufactures her own version of a simple coconut oil called Raw Coconut Cream, which is much different than what one might find at the grocery store. “Many think that if they pick up an organic coconut oil from their local store, it will be just as good,” says Swift, who has worked with renowned photographers including Annie Leibovitz and Patrick Demarchelier. “However, I always remind people that ‘organic’ is a guarantee of safety, not quality: an organic product at the grocery store can be good, bad, or mediocre—including certified organic coconut oil. For example, coconut oil can go through chemical refining, bleaching, and deodorizing. Really bad coconut oil can be hydrogenated and could still be called ‘natural.’” Swift packs her other formulations with nutrient-dense ingredients as well, such as beeswax, castor seed oil, and cocoa seed butter.
Much like the components, Swift keeps the RMS Beauty packaging extremely simple. “I am obsessed with clean minimalism and the idea of pure skin care, hence the white packaging,” she explains. “Chic and simple. I do not like loud and gaudy.” Most of the products are housed in compact frosted jars and topped with a crisp white lid. The thoughtfully designed packaging is either recyclable or biodegradable, or can be repurposed for storage of other beauty items and tools once the product has been spent. Swift also offers two kinds of mascara, tinted or translucent powder, and a rainbow of nail polishes made without parabens, formaldehyde, or other harmful chemicals.
Swift has carved her own path within the beauty industry, keeping things clean and staying true to her beliefs. By using the products that once made her ill to inspire her own beauty line, Swift found the ultimate silver lining, plain and simple.