RMS Beauty was founded on the belief that all women deserve access to makeup devoid of harmful toxins. Seems obvious, right? But you might be surprised to learn how many toxic chemicals and heavy metals are present in some of the beauty industry’s most used and popular products and formulations.
An outstanding authority in makeup, having worked as a makeup artist for Victoria Secret, Louis Vuitton, Vogue and countless other household names in beauty and fashion, RMS beauty founder Rose-Marie Swift knew her makeup needed to shift with the rest of her lifestyle after some jarring health concerns arose.
From her adventurous roots of Rockstar-turned-Burlesque-Face-Painter-turned-global-phenomenon, Swift’s profound sincerity and commitment to the sustainable health of herself and her clients is what makes RMS beauty a revelatory resource for all things non-toxic makeup.
Brand name: RMS beauty
Founder: Rose-Marie Swift
Date founded: 2009
What was the first product you developed and why did you create it?
I launched my brand in 2009 with 18 products. The very first were the Living Luminizer and “Un” Cover-Up Concealer. After years of working with the gorgeous Victoria’s Secret super models, I was frustrated with the industry’s versions of concealer and foundation, and so-called highlighters/illuminators.
Those girls were modeling lingerie and bikinis and I always applied organic jojoba oil (a major ingredient in RMS beauty) to their skin, for the most gorgeous, moisturized and seductive finish. So, I questioned why the traditional cosmetics couldn’t deliver that pure, realistically beautiful skin. It was always too heavy, too dry after a few hours, and it really made the skin look older and lackluster. Why, why, why? These models were 18 years old! A makeup product shouldn’t do this to them!
I wanted to create products that essentially made love to the skin. I wanted them to cover imperfections, yet look virtually undetectable. I wanted colors that matched the skin perfectly in any light, with no thick texture like a second skin. I was sick of that slightly white overcast, or the too pink or orange, dull, lifeless results. I wanted to create formulas that worked synergistically with the skin using healthy organic oils and the highest-grade mineral color available in the industry.
Those “Un” Cover-Up Concealers were such a hit, they were named by the media “the Meryl Streep of concealers,” as they have won so many awards. The Living Luminizer was completely unique at the time because it was so sheer with a refined, light reflective luminosity that looked real and contained organic ingredients that maintained that beautiful luminous glow.
I totally steered away from the glittery, matte whitish hue or over-the-top disco ball effect that some highlighters give. It’s a sheer, luminous veil of seductive, youthful, beautiful skin. In fact, I created the word “luminizer.” The word didn’t even exist at the time, and products like this were traditionally known as illuminators or highlighters. The word illuminator was too aggressive for such a beautiful lit-from-within product that gave the skin that life force glow that had never been done before, so I coined the term Living Luminizer, which is perfectly descriptive (and so much fun to say). Now everyone is using the word “luminizer.” But both of our products are still my best sellers and the formulas are so successful, they have remained the same!
What was the inspiration for this line?
When I created RMS Beauty, I wasn’t focused on being the most successful brand out there. I just but wanted to create a brand with integrity. After many years in the fashion and make-up industry, I’ve learned a lot about the impact of daily exposure to chemicals in beauty care products. 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. I know first-hand the price our health can pay in the pursuit of beauty. I realized that what women need are skin caring color cosmetics—products that are as pure as possible, that create a solid foundation for anti-aging and long-term beauty. I now realize that women are embracing the movement and I am so happy that my brand is one of the pioneers.
What is your brand philosophy?
Less is more. Skin is sensual and it should exude that sensuality—makeup shouldn’t cover it all up.
What is your bestselling product and why do you think that is?
The Luminizer is what I’m known for but “Un” Cover-Up is really the one we can’t keep in stock. I think people love how easy it is to use, and how beautiful it makes the skin look. It is simply the perfect complexion product. Period.
What's your favorite product in the line and why is that?
- Living Luminizer: Nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to the elegant sophistication of this dewy, light-reflecting glow and youthful approach to highlighting, without that cheap glitter look. Highlight wherever the face is elevated—cheek bones, brow bone, center of the eye lid just above lashes, bow of the lips, or down the bridge of the nose to lengthen and slim. For evening, the Living Luminizer can be added to the shoulders, along collarbones and even a little to the knuckles.
- “Un” Cover-Up Concealer: It blends beautifully into a silky second skin, going on smooth, while covering imperfections and redness, but without caking and drying.
What makes RMS beauty so unique?
Our living ingredients. We formulate every product using raw, food grade, organic, wildcrafted and natural ingredients that are as close to their natural state as possible.
What's one surprising thing people might not know about RMS beauty?
I personally research and choose almost every single ingredient we use. It’s an obsession.
What do you want people to think of when they think of your brand?
Clean beauty that’s guilt-free, refined, uncomplicated, fashion-forward and created by an actual successful NYC makeup artist.
What was one of the biggest challenges you faced when you launched?
Hands down, my biggest challenge was the cosmetic manufacturing labs. They really weren’t versed on “naturals” for color cosmetics, let alone organic. Many of the chemists and owners of these labs told me what I wanted to do couldn’t be done. It’s only in the last few years that major strides have been taken in the clean beauty color arena. I truly believe that if I didn’t have my own starting formulas based on organic creams (skincare meets mineral color), the labs would have led me down the path of creating yet another powdered mineral line, which was the closest you could get to a clean beauty brand concept at that time. I had to really challenge them to work with the ingredients I wanted to use and open their minds beyond “beauty chemistry 101” brainwashing. Yes, some labs even fired me, which I see as a positive thing! LOL!
How did you know you'd made it as a brand?
You never really know. I took a big chance and am so glad I did. I did not fear failure.
What is your proudest moment as a founder of rms beauty?
The fact that I actually bring my own unique vision to life, in the form of a successful, clean beauty brand that is exactly the way I imagined it should be. You can’t beat that.
What can we expect from rms beauty in the future? Any exciting news you can share?
I think now that “clean” is a new norm so for many it’s time to really challenge how to become more sustainable. I can’t say my brand will always be exactly what everyone wants in that realm, but we’re always working on the newest and most innovative products and packaging. We are coming up with some very smart ways to offer consumers better choices when it comes to refills and components that can be used long-term, to make our brand advantageous to all, including the environment.
Why did you decide to launch this brand?
I was a makeup artist in NYC working with all the heavy hitters and the who’s-who of the fashion and beauty industry. I quickly became very frustrated with the traditional cosmetic industry’s disappointing performance and questionable ingredients. I felt I had a responsibility to respect the skin and health of these young models that I was painting every day. I literally felt guilty, and I wanted to change the outmoded chemical dependent direction of the beauty industry. I also wanted to influence the consumer’s approach to healthy and sustainable beauty.
What made you want to be in the beauty industry?
I love fashion and beauty but I never really wanted to be a makeup artist. It literally fell into my hands and some say it was my destiny. I truly believe that now.
What has been your biggest struggle as a founder of RMS beauty?
Everything is a struggle being a founder. I can tell you what wasn’t though. My passion and my intuition never let me down.