Winnie Harlow made a splash last year when she launched Cay Skin, a skin-care meets sunscreen line that promised to be for "everyone under the sun." However, while everyone was talking about her Isle Glow Face Lotion and Isle Glow Body Lotion, we were most impressed by how good the brand's SPF Lip Balm was. Senior beauty writer Amanda Mitchell wrote about the game-changing product, stating that where other SPF-packed lip balms failed, Cay Skin's Isle Lip Balm delivered. So, how does one top an already incredible product? By offering it in tinted versions, of course. That's the secret to Harlow's perfectly plump lips — hydration, sun protection, and a natural hint of color.
In a recent interview with Harlow, the model-turned-entrepreneur shared the reason she launched her new tinted lip balms, how her relationship with beauty has changed since becoming a founder, and the exact combination of products she uses to achieve her signature glossy pout.
The following interview was told to Sara Tan and edited for length and clarity.
How her relationship with beauty has changed since launching Cay Skin
"I am so much more appreciative of the hard work that goes into the finished product. I worked on Cay Skin three years before it launched. Between it being a brainchild to finally coming to fruition, there’s so many twists and turns I could never have expected because I had no knowledge of it.
I used to work at the mall in a lingerie store and it gave me a new appreciation for when I went into stores. I would lay out things in the color of the rainbow and I would turn around and someone would mess it up looking for a size. You don’t really think about how much work goes into displaying underwear until you’re doing it.
I had the same experience when creating this line because there’s so many things that can go right and so many things that can go wrong, and the heartbreak you feel when the smallest thing goes wrong, it’s your baby!
But I'm still critical. I love to give reviews in the same way that I love to read reviews — it’s changed now in that I try to be more descriptive because I think it’s helpful to brands. I want to know what people are saying, whether it’s good or bad. We say, Cay Skin is for everyone under the sun and people [ask me], 'Don’t you love when people give you great reviews?' but I also love when people give critical reviews because they’re being honest! If someone can tell me, 'This didn’t work for me because of this,' I’m like, no, it needs to work for you. It’s my job to make sure it works for you."
The most rewarding part about being a beauty founder
"The most rewarding part is when people love it. When someone shares that it works for their skin, that they love the smell, all those little things. The smell of a product — you don’t think that has a big impact, but when someone tells me they love how my product smells and makes them feel, I’m like, 'thank God, because I made it for you.' There’s so many things to think of. There’s so many things that go into the brand. It’s been such an amazing learning experience. I think for me, working on something that’s mine has been amazing. Things can go wrong in life in general, but working on something for yourself and something that you’re really passionate about — I’ve loved skin care my whole life — it doesn’t matter the ups and downs, it’s all amazing."
Her skin-care must-have
"One thing that I recently found at Sephora was the Farmacy Honey Halo face cream — I use it as a night cream because it’s really penetrating, I love it. I always look for things that’s super hydrating. I use that for a night cream because it’s so rich but still feels light, I’m obsessed. I try so much stuff, I get sent so much stuff, but I also buy so much stuff too. Putting my stuff in Sephora was such a happy moment for me because it’s a second home for me, I’m always VIB Rouge. The rewards, I love. $10 off!"
"I want SPF to become something that you want to wear because you need to wear it. It’s not something that’s an option. I want to make it about beauty."
Her signature lip routine
"I go in with a really dark brown lip liner to get the contour of the lip and then warm brown to warm it up a bit. I use MAC Stone and Huda Beauty’s warm brown — I do a mix of those two. And then this is the type of tone I’d put in-between — my rosy pink lip balm called Irie Rose — I put that in the middle to get that really good gloss. It’s not just my bare lip. That's why I wanted to add shades to my lip balm. I do like to have some color on my lips when I do my lip liner look for the night. I need my lips to be extra glossy.
For me, when it came to making [lip] shades, I wanted to make sure it worked for everyone. I wanted it to be good on darker skin tones and lighter skin tones."
What to expect from Cay Skin in 2023
"You can expect more SPF! I want SPF to become something that you want to wear because you need to wear it. It’s not something that’s an option. I want to make it about beauty."
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