This story was originally published on December, 4, 2015.
It could be easily argued that Linda Rodin single-handedly started the face-oil phenomenon a decade ago, with a blend she created in a coffee cup (!) in her bathroom. And after sitting down with the 67-year-old this week to talk all things beauty, we would also argue that she’s one of the industry's most noteworthy characters — with unfiltered opinions on everything from injectables to gray hair.
Chances are, you’ve seen Rodin somewhere — whether in a fashion campaign or in the many profiles of her floating around the internet, always alongside her (also) gray-haired poodle, Winks. The New York-based model-turned-stylist has been a fashion industry mainstay for decades, but it wasn’t until her 59th year that she dipped her toes into the beauty world. Today, Rodin's face and body oils are the gold standard in the industry. Plus, she just launched her first cleanser, and rumor has it she’ll be coming out with lipstick next. (But more on that later.)
Rodin is perched on a bench outside of Violet Grey’s Melrose Place beauty boutique, wearing her signature look — gray hair perfectly coiffed, bright-red lipstick and nail polish, clumpy lashes underneath oversized, tinted glasses. She’s visiting the West Coast with artist friend Donald Robertson to fête her colorful holiday packaging at the L.A. store. Because, why not?
Ahead, Rodin takes us to beauty school.
R29: First question: What’s the biggest beauty lesson you’ve learned?
Linda Rodin: "The reason that I started [Rodin] is that less is more. I like one thing that does not [do] everything, but something specific. I’m not into a million different things, so my tagline has always been, ‘There’s beauty in simplicity.' I like it simple; I like to get up and go."
I find [young people getting injectables] absolutely frightening; it’s science fiction to me. You've got to grow up and see what you’re going to look like!
L.R.: "It happened because my hair started turning gray at 35, and I never dyed it; I never thought of dyeing it. And I started not being able to see, so I started wearing glasses. The look found me out of necessity."
R29: And have you always loved a bold lip?
L.R.: "On and off. As a teenager I wore frosted, light colors, and I have been back and forth, but as I got more gray, I thought I needed something bright because I can look a little transparent."
R29: What was the best thing about finding your signature beauty look?
L.R.: "It’s easy! Although on some level, some people can think it can be a little limiting, but at my age, I’m not experimenting. I'm going to be 68!"
R29: Speaking of, what are your favorite lipstick colors?
L.R.: "I love a red, a pink; I like hot colors."
R29: What are your favorite brands and shades?
L.R.: "Um...it’s kind of a secret, for now."
R29: Are you going to do lipsticks next?
L.R.: "I don’t know [laughs]. I should! I only like to make things that I would use. Like, I would never make a foundation."
L.R.: "I find [young people getting injectables] absolutely frightening; it’s science fiction to me. You've got to grow up and see what you’re going to look like!"
L.R.: "Well, I was wrinkled, so I thought, This is going to be great! But I realized that, although it was done very well and no one knew (it was very subtle), one day, I looked in the mirror and I felt like I was morphing into something else. Slowly, things started looking not like myself. I hate my wrinkles; I’m not bragging about them, but I just couldn’t look at myself."
R29: Do you have any makeup tips for people who wear glasses?
L.R.: "I very rarely wear eye makeup, but I like clumpy mascara. I think the beauty of glasses is that you don’t need eye makeup if the lenses are tinted [like mine]. But, I do like to do a little eyebrow if it sticks out at the top, depending on the glasses I'm wearing."
R29: How do you create the clumpy lashes?
"I just have clumpy lashes; they grow like this [holds fingers crossed], and I always wished my lashes were perfect and gorgeous, but I never had that. So now I say, ‘Embrace it!'"
R29: What are your favorite nail polish colors?
L.R.: "I used to love white. I used to wear dead-white opaque. I love a bright red; I think it's happy, and I do love a vampy color. I think there is something kind of black-and-white-movie about it."
R29: What's the most extravagant thing you've heard your oil used for?
L.R.: "Someone once said they only use it on their feet, but I can’t tell you who it is, or I’ll get arrested! It’s a celebrity, but I’m not supposed to know."
I always wished my lashes were perfect and gorgeous, but I never had that, so now I say, ‘Embrace it!'
L.R.: "I was a stylist for years, and I was at shoots with every top model and every great makeup artist, and I would see them using all these products. Of course, I would go buy them, or I’d go to Ricky’s, and I realized I never found anything I liked, so I decided to make one. I always liked little oils: I used arnica for bruises and evening primrose when I had a rash; I love jasmine and neroli because they’re wonderful for your skin. I just decided to make one of my own, so I just mixed [11 oils] together in a coffee cup. It was a fluke. I was doing it in my bathroom, on the ledge of my sink, in a coffee mug."
R29: And now you have a cleanser! Tell me about it.
L.R.: "It’s fabulous! It’s powder, so you pour a little bit out, and the more water you use, the creamier it is, and the less water, the more exfoliating. I use it every night: I cleanse my face, use it, and after, you keep your face semi-moist and you put the oil on. It’s just a preparation for the oil."
R29: You cleanse first? So it's like an exfoliator?
L.R.: "Yes, but it doesn’t have to be, I use it very rough about twice a week and more creamy the rest of the week. You can use it however you want!"
R29: Tell me more about the holiday Kaleidoscope packaging we're here celebrating today.
L.R.: "I used to work for photographers — and I used to want to be a photographer — and I was always fascinated with gel [light filters]. I decided years ago that I was going to wrap one of my perfumes in lavender [cellophane], and I never got around to it. Then, about a year and a half ago, I decided I was going to cello-wrap everything, and I wanted it to be vibrant colors. Then, it started looking to me like a kaleidoscope."
L.R.: "Yes, I have creative control! That was the key for me — I think they were smart, because I am a good demographic, and I am also a good face for it. There are things that make me nuts about a corporation, which I'd never known anything about. I think it was a learning curve for both of us, for me and them, because I had a full-time career and I made products at the same time. Now, I can’t do both."
R29: Was it difficult to give up fashion for beauty?
L.R.: "No, because I really enjoy this, and I get to dress myself. It’s easier dressing myself than any other people...I just know [what] I'm going to look good in!"
R29: Last question: What do you think the secret is to aging gracefully?
"People ask me this a lot, and I always say: There’s nothing graceful about it. You just can't believe it, almost. I look at old pictures and I think, Oh my God, I was worried about what my hair looked like? but then I think, I didn’t have any wrinkles, why was I worried about my hair? I was so cute! I think it’s hard to accept, and I think that now, with all this crazy stuff [people are doing to their faces]...I just can’t get on board. It's a little scary to me... And when I see these young girls, I just don't know what they're doing...this nipping and chopping can’t go on."