Glitter, Armpit Hair, & Tattoos — How Maggie Rogers Defies Pop Beauty

Did you know that there are nearly 14 million Google search results for Maggie Rogers' hair? Even if you did know — and count yourself as one of the millions of inquiries — Rogers certainly did not. When I told her this at the Refinery29 offices last week while she was promoting her first album, Heard It in a Past Life, her glittery eyelids went wide before she exclaimed, "What?! That's crazy!"
It suddenly became clear that Rogers is not the kind of famous person who secretly Googles herself in her free time. In fact, as she sat in front of me, mindlessly weaving her hair into loose braids as we talked, I got the sense that she's not fully aware of her celebrity at all. Over the course of 20 minutes, after exchanging our favorite eyeshadow formulas and breakup stories, it was easy to forget that I was talking to an in-demand, chart-topping artist — until her publicist caught my gaze and emphatically twirled her finger, signaling it was time to wrap up my questions.
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But isn't that her appeal? Somehow, Rogers – who shares a major record label with Katy Perry — narrowly escaped the pop-star machine that churns out exaggerated, on-stage personas complete with contour kits and cotton-candy hair. The Maggie Rogers who just performed on Saturday Night Live was the same Maggie Rogers who sat in front of me: bare, freckled skin, a wash of glitter on her eyelids, rumpled, undone waves. Her cool, laid-back beauty aesthetic practically begs you to ask questions. And, even if she didn't understand why we were inquiring, she generously answered all of them, ahead.
How would you describe your relationship with beauty right now?
"I feel kind of intimidated by beauty because I feel like there's a right way and wrong way to do it, and I've always thought I did it the wrong way. That's what has been so empowering about things like glitter or pink eyeshadow or blue mascara. Beauty can transform my day to day and make it more fun."
You once said that you knew you wanted to become a pop musician because of the type of makeup you wore, like bright pink eyeshadow. Do you still find that makeup is tied to your music?
"I've been in bands my whole life, and when I first starting touring this record it was the first time I was thinking about performing in a different way. I'm not thinking about jumping and dancing around on stage, even though that happens naturally. I'm thinking more about, How do I feel this song in the deepest way possible? And, How can I communicate those emotions? Eyeshadow was this incredible way for me to understand this more playful side of my personality. It helped me let it out and feed it and channel it."
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Do you do your own makeup on tour?
"Yeah! It takes like four minutes, if that. I brush my eyebrows, put on a little bit of mascara, a tiny bit of blush, and I use tinted lip balm. My general beauty routine is pretty simple."
What products are always in your makeup bag?
"I wear Glossier Boy Brow in brown; I probably should be wearing blonde, but I like that it's a little bit darker. I really like Benefit mascara. The glitter is an aloe-based product, which is cool because I've tried a lot of glitter that can burn sometimes if you don't take it off correctly. Stila also has this amazing, vibrant eyeliner — I love the blue one!"
You've said you have synesthesia, which allows you to see sound as certain colors. Is that linked to your love of color?
"Totally synesthesia, but also, it's fun! I always have some sort of pink eyeshadow around, but I grew out of it a little bit; the way that I dress has changed in the last two years, so it makes sense. I always describe my style as a mix between a San Francisco art teacher and a space cowgirl, and it oscillates. Some days I want to be the book girl in the corner, and some days I'm in full glitter. I'm always just like, 'How much can I put on?!' A glitter hangover is never a bad thing."
Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images.
Are you rigid about your skin-care routine on tour?
"I'm on so many planes and in so many different climates that I need moisturizer all the time. I'm really weird about my skin, but I never was until I started touring and it became this way to slow down at the end of the day. Somebody new came onto our team on tour and he asked us, as a band, 'Is there anything you guys are really into?' And my drummer goes, 'Face masks?' [Laughs] It's a classic pick-me-up on the road. If we're touring and it's been a couple hard days, somebody will buy either lottery tickets or face masks."
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People love how effortless your hair looks. What do you do to it?
"Absolutely nothing. I wash it every two to three days. I air dry it. This is the first time I've had long hair — I've had a pixie most of my life. Lately, I've been wearing this Medusa necklace and thinking a lot about the power in hair and the wildness to it. It's my best on-stage accessory."
Tell me more about the pixie cut!
"Dude, I loved it. I remember in high school bringing Carey Mulligan's Vogue cover [to the salon] and being like, 'This is what I want.' I love having short hair because it feels so powerful and striking. Beauty is, for me, totally related to my hair. If I have super-short hair, I wear a lot more lipstick, I wear more eyeliner, I dress differently."
Photo: Venla Shalin/Redferns.
Cutting your hair can be so liberating...
"It is literally old parts [of you] — like I've got lyrics about hair. I used to freak out about haircuts when I was little and then a hairdresser asked my mom if I was a Taurus. My mom was like, 'Yeah?' and they were like, 'The bulls don't like people messing with their horns.' Growing up, my parents would always say, 'Don't get a tattoo, but do whatever you want to your hair — it grows back.' Now, whenever I feel like I need a change, a haircut does that really well."
Will you cut it again soon?
"I was going through something a few weeks ago and I really wanted a haircut, but instead of getting one, I waxed my armpits. For the last year, I've had really long armpit hair and I find it incredibly sexy and empowering. It just feels natural and like this really unexpected, bold accessory. I love being on stage and going to dance, and having really intense armpit hair."
Despite your parents advice, eventually, you did get a tattoo.
"Just one tattoo on my ankle. It's a stick-and-poke that I got in a Berklee College of Music dorm room during the summer when I was 17. It's three super-small mountains that are the size of a penny. I got really lost on the Appalachian Trail that summer, so it's like a self-sufficiency thing. I have so much love for this tattoo because I got it during the same summer I decided I wanted to be a musician."
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