Rosie Huntington-Whiteley On The Ultimate Makeup Test And Creating The Perfect Foundation

Rose Inc’s new Softlight Skin-Smoothing Liquid Foundation is essentially the Goldilocks of the liquid foundation world: It’s not heavy on skin, yet the buildable medium coverage isn’t too light. Even more impressive, the foundation leaves skin healthier, since it works to keep the complexion balanced. The clean, non-comedogenic formula has a smooth, soft-matte finish and is fueled by bioengineered complexes that improve brightness and minimize the appearance of redness and pores while hydrating and keeping excess oil in check.

That’s a lot of boxes to check off, but that’s what had to be done in order to meet Rose Inc Founder and Chief Creative Officer, supermodel and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s aim for her brand: “My goal is to become the number one leading clean complexion brand out there, to achieve a beautiful, flawless complexion,” she says. “A foundation is the anchor and the tell-all of a brand. If you can get your foundation right, it becomes the iconic product of your brand. Currently our top sellers are all of our complexion products—Skin Enhance Luminous Tinted Serum, Softlight Luminous Hydrating Concealer and Cream Blush—and so foundation felt like the natural next step. It’s a product that obviously I wear very regularly.”

The introduction of Softlight Skin-Smoothing Liquid Foundation aligns with the two year anniversary of the launch of Rose Inc, but they’ve actually been working on the formula since the early days of the brand, for 18 months. It took time to perfect the right mix of ingredients, including a manuka, black pepper and magnolia complex that balances the skin; fermented reishi mushroom to strengthen the moisture barrier; ectoine to calm skin and balance moisture levels; evodia rutaecarpa fruit extract to reduce redness and brighten; and 100% plant-derived squalane to hydrate. As always, sustainability is at the forefront of the brand, as the formula comes in a recyclable glass jar with a 30% post-consumer recycled plastic cap, in a recyclable carton made from FSC-certified paper that’s printed with soy-based ink. “It’s really hard to get a clean product that will adhere to the skin and not slip around,” says Jason Hoffman, Global Makeup Artist at Rose Inc. “This formula is super innovative in that it is one of the cleanest formulas on the market, but it really builds and performs.”

Developing a formula that actually nurtures and nourishes skin was essential to Huntington-Whiteley. “Over the years I have always been so disheartened when I come back from work and I remove my makeup and I see how depleted my skin looks,” she says. “One of the things that I always wanted when we were creating Rose Inc was to have ingredients within the color products that were going to enhance and add to skin versus taking away from it. I liked the idea very much of having color products powered by skincare benefits that enhance your natural beauty and enhance the skin, microbiome and all of that.”

But as skincare and makeup continue to meld together more than ever, Huntington-Whiteley knew her foundation had to stand out in the very crowded space. “There are so many amazing foundations out there,” she says. “I think what sets ours apart is that I love the way it applies so easily. It’s very effortless. Sometimes with foundations, you have to really work them in or the finish feels very heavy and is only suitable for certain events in your life. It gives this gorgeous skin-like finish and it’s hydrating.”

Additionally, being buildable was key. “Some days I wear less and some days I need to wear more and that’s what’s great about having a buildable formula,” Huntington-Whiteley says. “A lot of foundations I’ve used are not buildable and I really struggle to make it work—it’s just too heavy and cakey and by 12 o’clock you look in the mirror and it’s settled into your lines and it doesn’t feel natural.” For Huntington-Whiteley, the ultimate test of whether makeup products are really working is catching yourself in the car window or mirror “because that is the worst way to see yourself,” she says. But if your makeup looks good there, it’ll look good anywhere.

It was also crucial for the foundation to have staying power, but to a realistic degree. “I think it’s a myth to expect a product to work from the moment you put it on in the morning to the last minute at night,” Huntington-Whiteley says. “When I’m on set the makeup artist is literally touching me up every five minutes, but day to day, I obviously don’t want to touch up my makeup all the time. But certainly if I’m going from day to night, I’m going to touch up my makeup a little bit.” Her tip for keeping your foundation intact is making sure your skincare products are right for your foundation and they work well together. “For me, avoiding oils or anything that’s too oily that’s going to make the products slip and slide over the day is really important,” she says. “I love to use something like a rose water to spritz up my skin throughout the day before applying powder to give that little bit of instant hydration.” Setting spray is also in her arsenal.

Rose Inc Softlight Skin-Smoothing Liquid Foundation comes in 31 shades. “When we started working on the shades, it was important to not just think about skin tone like light to dark, but at the same time not have undertones be an afterthought,” Hoffman says. “Undertones were just as important as skin tone because when you have a very deep shade, you’re not going to have someone that’s super deep that’s also warm—they’re going to be neutral, cool or red. When you’re super fair, you’re not going to have someone that’s very golden—that’s a very small, specific part of the population. So, you have to play with the pinks and the peaches and that’s what we did. It was also important that the concealers don’t just live by themselves. Every concealer has a partner in the foundation; there’s more shades of foundation than concealer but everybody has a match. When we were casting this we saw literally 50 models over the course of two days, and every single person we shade matched within one to two tries. If you have the right shades you can accommodate everybody.”

Having spent so much time in a makeup chair herself, Huntington-Whiteley has nailed applying foundation. “I’m a brush girl; I would say I apply 90% of my makeup with brushes,” she says. “The brushes at Rose Inc have been a runaway success. I don’t think any of us planned it; I insisted that we had brushes at the very beginning because that’s how I like to apply my makeup. Once we’ve created the formula then we figure out what kind of brush would give it its highest performance and allow it to be a seamless application for the customer. I apply this foundation with a brush but it can be used with fingers. Sometimes nothing compares to using the warmth of your fingertips when you’re applying a foundation. Skin on skin application makes something look very, very natural. A sponge is great as well.”

To make her complexion look flawless, Huntington-Whiteley starts with skincare to get the smoothest skin possible. At night she cleanses and exfoliates to make that happen, followed by a serum. “I tend to use all my actives in the evening so by the morning, all I usually do is cleanse my face with rose water,” she says. “I love to use our Radiant Reveal Brightening Serum because it’s like a primer meets moisturizer meets serum. I also love to use things like vitamin C in the morning and hyaluronic acid, anything that’s going to add hydration to the skin throughout the day.” She’ll top her morning skincare off with SPF before foundation.

To apply the Rose Inc Softlight Skin-Smoothing Liquid Foundation, Huntington-Whiteley pops a bit on the back of her hand and dabs dots all over her face, focusing on the areas where she wants more coverage, such as under her eyes, around her nose and chin, and anywhere she has spots or pigmentation. Then she uses the foundation brush to blend.

“Having beautiful, natural looking skin is the thing I strive for the most,” she says. “Often I don’t have it because I have acne-prone skin. I’m heading into my late 30s now and my skin is changing quickly and so glowing, gorgeous skin is the thing that I am trying to achieve the most with my makeup.” Mission accomplished.

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