When I sat down on a large, white sectional facing Emily Ratajkowski, I was expecting to feel intimidated. But the model better known as 'EmRata' struck a disarming pose, curling her legs up underneath her. I mirror the position, thankful that I'm also wearing jeans.
We're on the couch to talk about Ratajkowski's latest beauty project: She's been made the face of Viktor & Rolf's Flowerbomb fragrance, a perfume that Ratajkowski describes as "iconic" and "strong." During our conversation, Ratajkowski talks all about her high-low beauty routine, trimming her own fringe and darkening her moles with a brow pencil. We also get into her POV on Botox and plastic surgery as it relates to feminism, and the wellness practice that helped her through "a really hard time" at 27.
Refinery29: I love your new podcast, High Low with EmRata; I just listened to the episode on inflation. I'm curious, how did you land this hosting position?
Emily Ratajkowski: Thank you so much. I grew up listening to radio — podcasts before they were podcasts — because I was always commuting from San Diego to L.A. for modelling when I was in high school. I fell asleep at the wheel a few times. So, the way that I would stay awake was by listening to talk radio because it kept me more engaged than music. I became kind of an NPR head and loved Terry Gross and This American Life particularly.
When podcasts started popping off, my friends and people who are close to me would say, 'I think you'd be so good at this — you should have a podcast.' I knew that I wasn't ready for it. When I started writing the book [My Body], somebody approached me about doing a podcast. I had been writing for about a year and had finally decided I was going to publish. At that point I was like, I think I want to wait until the book is done and it's out in the world and people understand my POV a little bit more. A year after it was published we started [the podcast]. It was a perfect evolution.
People didn't know my politics. They knew, she said this in press, or, she's campaigned for Bernie Sanders. But they didn't know who I was on my own terms.
Refinery29: I think it takes a lot of self-awareness to say, I'm not ready yet, but I will be.
Emily Ratajkowski: Too many times I've not trusted my gut. I've been like, 'Okay, sure, if you think this is a good idea.' I knew that even with my relationship to the public, people didn't know my politics. They knew, she said this in press, or, she's campaigned for Bernie Sanders. But they didn't know who I was on my own terms. I thought that was really important before the podcast came out. I think it has helped me find my voice.
Refinery29: I enjoyed the episode on 'Can You Be Feminist and Get Plastic Surgery'? It's such a nuanced conversation. You talked about getting Botox for the first time at 27 — what was your headspace like at that time?
Emily Ratajkowski: For people who don't live in New York or L.A., Botox seems really extreme. But even now, all my friends in San Diego, my hometown, they get Botox. It's so normal. I mean, I was terrified. But I was also like, everybody looks fucking great. My best friends were getting Botox and I wanted to try it.
With plastic surgery in general, the way we talk about what's normal and taboo has completely changed. It's what I mentioned on the episode. Like, nose job check. Even Doja Cat tweeted about how she's going to get surgery to get a breast lift. I think there's something really nice about how open women are being.
Refinery29: Have you tried any other in-office treatments, injectables or surgeries?
Emily Ratajkowski: No. I have a particular face and look and don't like the idea of messing with it. But I like Botox.
Refinery29: What is your everyday skin-care routine?
Emily Ratajkowski: This new facialist I'm seeing — I go to this woman Callie at Pearlita Salon in Soho, New York — introduced me to this brand called Factor Five. I take off all my makeup with Bioderma. I use the Factor Five toner and layer that with Weleda. Twice a week I use [Biologique Recherche] P50. Because of the dryness of winter, I'll layer on another moisturiser or oil. Then I use a sunscreen during the day.
Emily Ratajkowski: I have always loved bangs. People always say, bangs are how you know someone's unwell. All my friends were like, I love you but no. It was when I was getting my hair extensions out, I was like, I want bangs so bad, so I cut them.
They're more like curtain bangs, so they're really easy to maintain. At this point, I think I'll never not have them; they frame my face and it feels like I have a hairdo even when I don't.
Refinery29: How do you style your fringe?
Emily Ratajkowski: I use those two little clips that have the flat side to them. I pin those in when my hair is wet, do my skin routine and my makeup, and then depending on how dry my hair is, I'll just leave it. It adds this little pinch so they come together. Or, if my hair is still wet, I'll take a round brush and blow them out really quickly.
Refinery29: What's your get-out-the-door makeup routine?
Emily Ratajkowski: I try not to use that much on my skin. I don't use foundation. I'll use concealer, but it ends up being rubbed out over my whole face. I use Gucci Westman's bronzer stick. Then I use Patrick Ta's blush. I apply it with my fingers, then on the centre of my cheeks and over my nose. I have a Milk highlighter that has never run out, I've had it for years and God bless it. I use an eyebrow pencil on my lips to line them and I also use that to darken my moles and freckles.
Refinery29: You've been wearing a really good red lipstick — kind of a matte orange-red — what is it?
Refinery29: What perfume are you wearing these days?
Emily Ratajkowski: Definitely Flowerbomb now. I've gone in and out of wearing fragrance. This one is so iconic. I love that all of my friends were so excited when I said I was working with the brand. I also love that it's a flower scent but it's strong. I think there's a citrusy, patchouli undertone to it that's really nice.
My favourite part about perfume is the way it sits on your skin. When I wear perfume, I always smell the best at the end of the day.
Refinery29: I'm sure your days are packed, do you feel like you have a sense of balance?
Emily Ratajkowski: I have no balance. I have so many hats and I like wearing them. Between being a single mum, modelling full time, having a podcast, also wanting to continue to write, and running a read-to-wear business [iNAMORATA], it's insane. I don't have balance.
I got married when I was 27. That was just 4 years ago, but it feels like a really long time.
Refinery29: What would be your advice to your younger self? Say, back when you were 27 and getting Botox for the first time.
Emily Ratajkowski: Well, I got married when I was 27. That was just four years ago, but it feels like a really long time. I think I felt like I was getting older. I think I felt older at 27 than I do at 31. Something was freaking me out. I had this realisation that I was getting closer to 30 and wasn't going to be young forever. But something about 31, I'm like, I'm so young. I turned to my friend the other day and was like, 'Did we ever think 30 was old?' She was like, 'Bitch, we thought 30 was so old.' But you have so much time. Yes, life goes fast, but ultimately 27 is so young and it gets better. It got so much better for me. I think you'll know yourself more. Of course, as young women, [we] feel the pressure of being young forever. But in your 30s, you look the same, but you've figured out who the hell you are.
Refinery29: Do you have any habits you adopted along the way that helped you come to that realisation?
Emily Ratajkowski: When I started writing, that helped. I wasn't fulfilled in my career and in my life. It was a really hard time for me. I had made all this money. I was famous. I was 'successful' in all of these ways that people tell you should make you happy. Realising that I wasn't and I wasn't fulfilled, I had to figure out what would make me happy.