“I got really lucky with modeling. The only casting I went on was with Mario Testino...and then it was kind of, you know, my whole life got flipped upside-down. But with acting now, it’s not walking into a room and being like, ‘Hey, nice to meet you.’ It’s like, you walk into a room and you put on an effing performance, and then you leave the room. In the world of modeling, you just show someone a book and you’re completely objectified from your surface. But with acting it’s like, do you have a fucking skill? Do you know what you’re doing? Did you put the work into it? Are you emotionally available? You can’t even compare the two worlds. Acting is fucking hard. Modeling is easy; you just travel a lot. I didn’t always know I wanted to segue into acting; it was serendipitous. I totally ended up with that role [in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter] because of a fluke. You know, my whole thing is being a conduit of creativity. It sounds totally esoteric and hippie, but the more things that you can do to challenge yourself, test yourself, and find a new medium of creativity…I’m all about it. I don’t believe in being a ‘muse,’ though. That whole concept is a fleeting moment. It’s not a person that inspires you, it’s someone that’s personifying a bigger picture—it’s not the actual person, you know? There is no way one person walking this earth can forever and always be a muse to anyone. Everything’s fleeting in life, like every, single, solitary thing…maybe including my acting career! [Laughs] You never know.
I wouldn’t say I was really into fashion before modeling; I was into creation. Like, I always made jewelry. I would save my money and go to MJ Designs and do arts and crafts projects and stuff. My mom says that I was always making things. But clothing? Not so much. Clothing is disposable; it’s made out of fibers. Jewelry is alchemy: throw it in the bottom of the ocean, it’s still there. And trends are scary. I think they totally hold us by golden handcuffs. It’s really unfortunate that women feel…that we have this desire to covet things that might personify something we’re trying to gain access to. But it’s like, you can’t get the access to it without the experience, itself. So, if you’re into some trendy-ass print, then figure out what the nucleus of it is and maybe go visit the country, instead of being like, ‘Oh I spent 12 grand on this piece.’ It’s funny because girls want to emulate my style, but you can emulate my style for, like, 20 bucks. Go to a thrift store! [Laughs] I don’t spend money on clothes. I’m not that person. I don’t do the whole Isabel Marant thing. I love her as a person, and I think what she does is fucking amazing, but am I going to buy into a world of a French woman selling me what I grew up with? Do you know what I mean? Am I going to sign up for that? I’m sorry, but I’m not going to spend $1,200 on a Western shirt and go back to Texas and get it for five bucks. I meannn. [Laughs] Dude, I’m wearing Free People right now. I love me some Free People.
I like it now because I don’t feel as though I’m booked as a model anymore—I’m booked as me. I show up and I’m allowed to be me. There’s no more glamazon/dress-up/Barbie-doll shit going on in my career anymore. I think charisma and pizazz definitely get you far in the business. Sometimes you’ll be on a photo shoot or job with a group of people for 12 hours, and it’s like, do you want to be with a girl with zero personality who’s really beautiful, or do you want to be with a girl who’s kind of beautiful and has a great personality? I think you’ve got to have something to say. You know, ‘cause that whole idea that models are to be seen and not heard, I just think it’s rubbish. And I think modeling is shifting towards an older woman because you have to own yourself, man. I always used to say that you could tell the girls who lost their virginity between seasons. It’s like, at the end of the day, if you haven’t had sex then you can’t sell sex—let’s be real. To be in the fashion industry there has to be a fire inside of you, where you have to understand yourself, your body…all of that kind of stuff. I mean, I’m half way to 31! [Laughs]
I think beauty is all in your head at the end of the day. I’m a hippie of the heart, because I don’t smell like patchouli. [Laughs] I think that if you’re a hippie you just understand that everything is always bigger than you at any given time; it’s never really about you. There’s always a bigger picture. I’ve always looked at women like Lauren Hutton—she doesn’t wear any makeup. It’s the women who always let themselves shine that I was always drawn to. It was always the ones who don’t wear the makeup. Lauren Hutton would throw a three-piece suit on and show up for a red-carpet event. I mean, my mother was so bare bones—it was, like, Dove soap and Oil of Olay. My mother was a flight attendant for 32 years, and I’m like, ‘Mom—eye cream. We need to add something to your beauty regimen because, trust me, Oil of Olay is not going to cut it. You need to be doing something more.’ But, I buy it for her and she still doesn’t use it. She’s such a humble woman.
I certainly don’t know the tricks of the trade. I don’t know any secrets; I don’t think there are any secrets. I mean, certainly facials are a dream come true. The only woman I let touch my skin is Terri Lawton in LA. She does craniosacral therapy—she’s actually like a spiritual healer. She sticks her fingers in your mouth and moves around energy. She does all of this stuff where you lie on an infrared mat. It’s not about the superficial layer of your skin, it’s about all the deeper layers and what’s going on inside of you. She’s extraordinary. Even if I went in there and she never touched my skin, I would still see her because of her presence and just who she is as a person. She’s totally into the metaphysics community; she talks to scientists in Switzerland about movements and progressions in skincare. She’s so epic.
Everything really needs to be paraben-free for me. I mean, because if I’m going to smoke cigarettes, then I need to be aware of all the other bullshit I’m putting into my body. For my skin, these are the jam: Julisis Silver Wash Night and Gold Wash Day. I got it all from Terri; she found some crazy dude who makes all of these things. It’s all based on different rocks and stones that have been blessed by shamans. And oils, I’m an oil aficionado—the Julisis face oil is the best, but Rodin cream and the Olio Lusso body oil are great, too. And I'm all about DDF Glycolic 10% Toner. It's a godsend for whenever you’re getting breakouts—you put it on at night, and it tends to just dry everything out. It’s like chemical warfare. But I do feel there’s a bit of a placebo effect with skincare. I think that we look at ourselves too much, and we try too many fucking products that agitate and aggravate our skin, and that’s sort of what’s dooming us. If you’re using something and you think it’s doing something for you, it’s in your head. It’s all genetics, really. At the end of the day, if you’re going to get lines, it’s probably because your mom and your grandma had the same lines in the same place on their face.
The only thing I’ll wear in terms of makeup is the RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up. I think it’s the most amazing beauty product ever created. It’s like skin. Foundation grosses me out, but this is like a natural foundation. All of her stuff is natural—you could eat her products. And I’ll do mascara, Maybelline Volum'Express. But I just don’t wear makeup unless it’s to events. Foundation and covering up is just the worst; I’m all about being able to see your skin. I mean, listen, we all have these weird, slight idiosyncrasies to our skin. I think that old-school makeup artist mentality of ‘blank canvas and build back’ is very dated. For me, I’m like, tinted moisturizer, some of that Rose Marie Swift shit, maybe some blush, but I don’t do sparkles. [Laughs] I’ll do literally a taupe eye shadow. I will literally sit there with a makeup artist and be like, ‘Can I see if there is any sparkle in that? Is there any glitter in this, because if there is, get it away from me.’ [Laughs]
Every day, after I go in the ocean, what I do with my hair really depends on what I’m doing afterwards. [Laughs] The one thing I can’t live without is conditioner. I think I should have bought stock in a conditioner company years ago… I literally use half a bottle at once. I was really into that Oribe shit for a while, but it got real expensive. Now I’m just using Biolage. That’s all I need. I don’t even shampoo my hair. Unless I’m working and they put all the crap in my hair, I do not believe in stripping your hair of all the oils. So yeah, I’ll get in the ocean and a little bit of salt will be left over, and then I’ll condition it and then it’s done. Maybe some oil—a hairdresser gave me this hair serum, Rose Veil. It’s like Moroccan Oil, but it smells like rose. It’s kind of intoxicating. Or sometimes I’ll use Kérestase Fiber Architecte if it feels damaged. I do color my hair, because, girl, I’m pretty much gray. [Laughs] I just do my roots every three weeks. I mean, my mom and dad basically went completely gray in their mid-twenties. So I’m lucky I’m just now having to deal with it in my thirties. Harry Josh does it in New York. I don’t always do it every three weeks. He texts me being like, ‘Dude you need to come in!’ But I’m not the type of person who really cares. Right now, there are all kinds of terrier gray hairs coming in, but I’m like, whatever. You can’t see it…. If it was darker you’d be able to see it more. But there is, like, a fucking national forest going on in there. [Laughs]
I started getting tattoos when I was 17. I don’t have a grand plan with my tattoos, never. I’m the girl who just thinks up something as I’m walk into a tattoo parlor and I’m getting it an hour later. I believe in ornamentation of the body… I believe if you feel it, you should just do it. Don’t overanalyze anything in life too much—you’ll make yourself crazy. I’m into symbolism; all of my tattoos are very much based on symbolism. And they’re all very sneaky. So, if I’m just standing straight in front of you, you wouldn’t really see them. But, if I was naked and you saw me from behind you would be like, ‘Damn.’ [Laughs] All of my tattoos are in the place where I want them; they’re not hidden because of work. It’s been a problem for sure over the years, but whatever! You know, I started in this business when it was 35mm film. Now, everything is digital anyways, so you just push a button and every blemish and tattoo just disappears."
—as told to ITG
Erin Wasson, in a Free People shirt, photographed by Emily Weiss in Venice, CA on August 16th, 2012.